Social Emotional Learning Through Children’s Literature

Enthusiastic by nature, I became a school principal because of my steadfast belief that high quality instruction drives student success. I am a product of the school system I went through in Vancouver, British Columbia. My children are successful products of the school system in Coquitlam, British Columbia, a suburb of Vancouver. However personal experience and research through organizations such as the OECD, or a long list of individuals such as John Hattie, Michael Fullan, Peter DeWitt, Andy Hargreaves, Angela Duckworth, Carole Dweck, Linda Kaser, Judy Halbert, Jenni Donohoo, et al., we know we can do better. When I think of the old African saying “We know better, so we do better”, I also ways hear the voice of Rosa Fazio, my friend and mentor from my days as a vice-principal at Norma Rose Point Elementary and Middle School. It is one of her favourite sayings and represents why British Columbia is a leader in implementing educational change. It represents an ability to consider the options and pivot. COVID-19 has necessitated that responsiveness to the needs of our school communities. The research during school shut-downs and natural disasters speaks to the significance of specific and deliberate instruction in social emotional learning. The challenge is to create a sense of belonging for students not attending face to face programs, not crossing cohort groups, not participating the whole school activities that we’ve always incorporated into school life to build community.

As a lover of books, my go to place is to turn to reading.  Books have provided vicarious experiences, new learning, escape, a reflection of myself and new ways of thinking of the world or very specific situations.  They have also provided another way to connect with my friends and colleagues.  They created warm family memories and provoked conversations with my children that never emerge with the question “How was school today?”  The read alouds of the Harry Potter series alone stimulated some of our best family conversations about belonging, friendship, loyalty, sadness, fears, death, bravery, and risk.  It was natural response to turn to how we could use books to nurture a sense of belonging with the students in Livingstone Elementary School.

At the outset of the year, in my continued role as President of the British Columbia Literacy Council of the Literacy Association – BCLCILA- a literacy group that you join for the duration of your career in education, I floated the idea of asking members to contribute titles to a Social-Emotional booklist.    It seemed fairly easy-peasy and something that would naturally evolve.  Julie Pearce, another friend and mentor, notes that I always make a point, then go off in a wide circle, before bringing it all back to the point.  This past year has felt like the big circle as I’ve tried to define the best selection of books for a SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING CHILDREN’S LITERATURE BOOKLIST.  The fact that I got relatively few contributions submitted online, I believe this represents something larger than me overthinking almost everything. 

A few weeks ago, by chance more than planning, I ended up assuming the role of librarian for a few days in my school.  After the lesson in humility, as I tried to navigate the new library system, I had a chance to talk to kids about their book selections through my mask and plexi-glass barrier.  I also had a chance to peruse the recent purchases by the actual librarian, Marvin Muress, also a BCLCILA member.  I chose many titles to read for my YouTube channel, Ms. Froese Reads, another attempt to build community by bringing our students together for online story time, provoke discussions, and highlights great Children’s literature selections for home libraries.  I chose many more titles to add the BCLCILA list.

I added the selections to the list and went back to consider some of my other titles and how they fit. My Reading Challenge on my Goodreads account was helpful to access the book titles.  It took me back to a conversation with Anna, a Grade 7 student at Livingstone Elementary School when I came to the school as principal in 2019.  She challenged me to take the time to consider why kids liked graphic novels and put together a list of must reads.  Most of these books were about identity, coping with adversity, and retellings of historical events.  They belonged on the list.  After adding many of these titles, I realized my categories for sorting the books didn’t quite fit.  More circles of possibility to pursue. 

Yesterday, I started to write this blog post and ended up writing about race.  In the process, I picked up Tessa McWatt’s (2019) book, Shame on Me – An Anatomy of Race and Belonging.  The author helped me pinpoint what I really want to accomplish.  I do not want to create a booklist of didactic texts that provide instruction of how to identify feelings and self-regulate during COVID-19.  I want to create a safe haven where all students feel a sense of belonging to their school community.  I have come up with the following categories to provide titles to help explore issues of identity and belonging.  I want to avoid the trap of creating a sense of “other”.  If we shelve books as multi-cultural or Indigenous, aren’t we in fact assuming they are outside of our school community.  I want to include books that make us laugh, use our imaginations, and explore ways of coping with and myriad of feelings and adversity. 

I decided on the following categories:

Identity

Self-Regulation and Mindfulness

Challenge and Resilience

Wisdom from Ancestors

Playful Ideas

They are laden with what my notions of the things we need to develop in order to cope.  They provide many ways of belonging.  I’m curious about how they will work.  I would love to hear your thoughts.

I have included the Creating Belonging Through Children’s Literature list below.  It is a work in progress.  Please follow this link if you would like to contribute your book suggestions.  I encourage you to join the International Literacy Association.  I joined my first year as a teacher because my principal, Jack Corbett in SD #34 told it’s what we do here at Dormick Park Primary School.  I have never regretted it and my appreciation of books as a way to move mountains has increased exponentially.

Creating Belonging Through Children’s Literature

A List Compiled by members of BCLCILA

 The British Columbia Literacy Council of the International Literacy Association

Primary Students:

Identity:

Adderson, Caroline, Qin Leng (Illustrations (2014).  Norman Speak

This picturebook encourages us to consider how we judge intelligence and how we support those we love.  Perceptions of the adopted family dog shift when they discover at the dog understands Chinese and inspires the family to sign up for Chinese lessons..

Literary Awards  Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize Nominee (2015)

Ho, Joanna, with Illustrations by Ho, Dung (2021).  Eyes That Kiss in the Corners.  Harper Collins Publishers. 

A beautiful story that “I have eyes that kiss in the corner and glow like warm tea.” The refrain throughout the book as the little girl celebrates the eyes that she has i common with her Mom, her Amah, and her sister’s. Dung Ho was born and raised in Vietnam and studied graphic design at the Hue Arts University. Her illustrations speak as loudly as the text.  A book of celebration of Asian eyes.

Kinew, Wab with illustrations by Joe Morse (2018).  Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes.  Tundra Books.

Written as a celebration of thirteen modern day and historic Indigenous heroes.  Inspirational people for all readers to emulate.  Beautiful text written as a rap song by Wab Kinew.  Beautiful realistic illustrations that look like photographs at first glance.

Literary Awards  USBBY Outstanding International Book list for 2019.

“We are a people who matter.” Inspired by President Barack Obama’s Of Thee I SingGo Show the World is a tribute to historic and modern-day Indigenous heroes, featuring important figures such as Tecumseh, Sacagawea and former NASA astronaut John Herrington.

Khan, Rukhsana (2010)  Illustrator – Sophie Blackall.  Big Red Lollipop.  Viking.

The author, Rukhsana Khan, was born in Pakistan and immigrated to Canada as a pre-schooler.  A charming story of two young girls navigating the rules of their new cultural traditions and helping their mother to understand.  All this while navigating their relationship as sisters.  Great story.  A recent addition to the BCLCILA list of SEL books.  Also selected as a read aloud on the YouTube channel featuring Ms. Froese Reads.

Literary Awards SCBWI Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text (2011)Charlotte Zolotow Award (2011)

Levitan, Sonia with illustrations by Wijngaard (1996).  A Piece of Home.  Dial Books for Young Readers.

This picturebook shares the experience of little boy’s immigration and experience of leaving Russia to be with extended family in Santa Monica, California. The two cousins discover they are united by a special reminder of Russia.

Martinez-Neal, Juana (2018).  Alma and How She Got Her Name.  Candlewick Press.

Alma Sofia Esperanza Jose Pura Candela gains a new appreciation of her very long name, once her father explains the story behind each name.  This book has been selected for Ms. Froese Reads on YouTube and the BCLCILA SEL Booklist.

Literary Awards  Caldecott Medal Nominee (2019)Ezra Jack Keats Book Award Nominee for Writer (2019)Monarch Award Nominee (2020)

Parr, Todd (2016) Be Who You Are. Megan Tingley Books, Little, Brown and Company.

The bright colourful illustrations beckon the reader to live out loud and claim his/her/their own identity.

Muhammad, Ibtihaj with Ali, S.K. / Art by Aly, Hatem (2019).  The Proudest Blue:  A Story of Hijab and Family.  Little, Brown and Company. 

This picturebook by Olympic Medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali tells the story of two girls on the first day of school.  For the older sister is 6th grade, it is a celebration of the first day of wearing hijab.  The younger sister tries to me sense of identity as a Muslim and the sometimes hurtful response of others.  Beautiful illustrations by Hatem Aly captures the strength of purpose represented by hijab and the darkness that comes from those intolerant of difference.

Literary Awards  Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Picture Books (2019)

Self-Regulation and Mindfulness: 

Mantchev, Lisa (2020).  The Perfectly Perfect Wish.  Simon & Schuster.

This story is a new twist on common theme of what would you wish for if you had 1 wish. As the little girl dreams of her wants, and talks with her friends, the needs of her friends come shining through. This book teaches that self-awareness of everything you have to be grateful for helps you to be empathetic to others who may not be as fortunate. The girl wishes that her friends’ wishes come true and highlights that giving helps others and also enriches your own life.

McCloud, Carol, Messing, David (Illustrator) (2014 – 7th printing).  Have You Filled a Bucket Today?  A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids.  Ferne Press.

Through simple prose and vivid illustrations, this heartwarming book encourages positive behaviour as children see how rewarding it is to express daily kindness, appreciation, and love. Bucket filling and dipping are effective metaphors for understanding the effects of our actions and words on the well being of others and ourselves.

Literary Awards Literary Awards

Nautilus Book Award for Children’s/Young Adults Non-Fiction (Silver Medal) (2008)London Book Festival Nominee for Children’s Book (Honorable Mention) (2007)DIY Book Festival for Best Children’s Picture Book (2007)Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Competition for Best Children’s Picture Book (2007)Purple Dragonfly Book Awards for Educational/Instructional (1st Place) (2011)

The Great Southwest Book Festival for Children’s Books (2016)

Mora, Oge (2019).  Saturday.  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

A great story of disappointment, self regulation, resilience, and the love between a mother and daughter.  Included on the SEL list being collated by the British Columbia Literacy Council of the ILA.  Also a selection for the Ms. Froese Reads YouTube channel.

Woodson, Jacqueline (2018).  The Day You Begin.  Nancy Paulsen Books

When you begin anything new and no none knows who you are, it can be difficult. This books highlights the internal struggle that often occurs when someone enters a situation for the first time and searches for belonging.  Sometimes all it takes is someone to make a connection with you that helps normalize being different. This book is an excellent resource for representing all children whether it be looks or feelings and to know that they are not alone. (Note: This book is strong in both the belonging theme and the representation theme and is suitable for primary and 4-5).)

Zietlow Miller, Pat, Hill, Jen (Illustrator). (2018).  Be Kind. Roaring Book Press.

When Tanisha spilled her grape juice all over her dress at school, her friend considers what kindness looks like and the impact it has.  A good book to faciliate this conversation with pre-school and primary aged children.

Literary Awards Monarch Award Nominee (2021)

Challenge and Resilience

Beckwith, Kathy with illustrations by Lyon, Lea (2005).  Playing War.  Tilbury House Publishers.

Sameer opts out of playing war with his new neighbourhood friends.  They start to understand when he explains his experiences with war. The child appropriate illustration of why playing war not a game.

Forchuk Skrypuch, Marsha with Tuan Ho with art by Brian Deines (2016).  Adrift at Sea.  Pajama Press.

This picturebook is set in 1981 when then 6 year old Tuan, his mother, and two of his siblings set out to escape civil unrest in Vietnam to make the dangerous journey to reunite with his father and older sister in Canada.  Tuan, now a father with a wife and two children of his own, is a practicing physiotherapist with a clinic of his own.  The art by Brian Deines captures the vivid colour of Southeast Asia, and the blurred lines of memory.

Literary Awards

OLA Forest of Reading Golden Oak Award

Red Cedar Information Book Award Nominee

Lindstrom, Carole, Goade, Michaela (Illustrator).  We Are Water Protectors.  Roaring Books Press. 

The first Caldecott medal winner of an Indigenous author.  A beautiful call to action to protect our water from harm and corruption.  Amazing, bold, illustrations by Michaela Goade.

Literary Awards:  Caldecott Medal Winner

Ruurs, Margriet with art by Nizar Ali Badr (2016). Stepping Stones:  A Refugee Family’s Journey.  Orca Book Publishers. 

A great book about the journey of a family’s journey as refugees from the Middle East.  Amazing artwork done photographs of made artwork of stones by Syrian artist, Nizar Ali Badr.  Text in English and Arabic.  Most recent addition to the BC Literacy Council of ILA Booklist.

Literacy Awards:  Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize Nominee (2017)

Wisdom from Ancestors:

Bouchard, David with paintings by Zhong-Yang Huang (1997).  The Great Race

A little girl, her grandmother, and twelve animal cut-outs recreate the origins of the Chinese zodiac in this picturebook.  Beautiful paintings by Canadian-Chinese artist, Zhong-Yang Huang.  A favourite book of mine to revisit during Lunar New Year.

Richie, Scot (2015).  P’eska and the First Salmon Ceremony.  Groundwood Books.

Scot Richie sets the story one thousand years ago and bases it on archeological evidence. The glossary, letter from Chief William Charlie, and added information about the Sts’ailes People bring depth to the text. HIstory unfolds around the Harrison River in British Columbia.

Vickers, Roy Henry with Budd, Robert with illustrations by Vickers, Roy Henry (2014).  Cloudwalker.  Harbour Publishing.

On British Columbia’s northwest coast lies the Sacred Headwaters–the source of three of British Columbia’s largest salmon-bearing rivers.  This ancient legend and the art of Roy Henry Vickers bring the Indigenous teaching about the need to care for our sources of water to life.  Beautiful.

Literary Awards  Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award Nominee (2015)

Playful Ideas:

Alexander, Kwame with art by Sweet, Melissa (2019).  How To Read A Book.  Harper Collins Publishers.

Melissa Sweet’s bright and enticing artwork draw you into this picturebook.  Kwame Alexander poetry bring the sensory aspect of reading to light.  For some, reading is a firm part of identity.  For some an opportunity for new adventures. For others a comfort.  For many of us, all of the above.  This book teases out and delights in the possibilities.

Literary Awards

Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Picture Books (2019)

Bates, Amy and Bates, Juniper (2018).  The Big Umbrella.  Simon Schuster / Paula Wiseman Books. 

When the big umbrella by the door opens wide, there is room for everyone.  A mother-daughter collaboration was inspired by sharing an umbrella in a rainstorm.  A recent addition to the the BC Literacy Council of the International Literacy Association booklist of Social-Emotional Booklist.

Bailey, Linda with illustrations by Bill Slavin (2003).  Stanley’s Party.  Kids Can Press.

It all started when usually obedient Stanley craws up on the couch, something forbidden by his people.  It triggers a series of events that culminates in a party that dogs are still talking about.  A fun book for anyone who has ever contemplated what their dog does all day.  Illustrations by Bill Slavin add to the festivity of the text.

Evans, Christine (2020).  Emily’s Idea.  Sounds True.

Emily folded, doodled, and snipped to create a chain of very unique paper dolls that are linked together in friendship.  Her idea spreads to school and throughout the world via social media.  The book includes a stencil to create a paper doll chain and the Marta Alvarez Miguens’s illustration inspire paper dolls of many abilities and ethnicities. 

Intermediate / Middle School:

Identity:

Craft, Jerry (2020).  Class Act (New Kid #2).  Quill Tree Books. 

Jordan Banks is back at the very prestigious private school for Grade 8.  This time the story focuses on his friend Drew, also a black student at the school and his quest to maintain his identity and have mutual acceptance of his friends.

Craft, Jerry (2019).  New Kid. Harper Collins Publisher.

Jordan Banks loves to draw cartoons.  His dream is to attend art school.  His Mom is very much in favour of his enrolling in a very prestigious private school across town where he is one of the few black students.  Jordan struggles with fittiCraft ng into his new school and keeping his neighbourhood friends as well as keeping his identity.

Literary Awards

Newbery Medal (2020)Coretta Scott King Book Award for Author (2020)Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature (2019)Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Middle Grade & Children’s (2019)

Emerson, Marcus (2012).  Diary of a Sixth Grade Ninja.  Create Space. 

This book would have great appeal for intermediate students who like graphic novels and are navigating life in upper intermediate / middle school.  Funny.  Nice relationship between new boy at school and his cousin.

Parker, Kate T. (2017).  Strong is the New Pretty:  A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves. Workman Publishing Company.

An amazing collection of photographs of girls being girls.  The photographs are accompanied with quotes explaining the perceptions and strength of the girls.

“Strong girls never lose.  They only learn, and come back stronger.” 

                     Kylie, age 12

“I have always experienced the most immediate sense of strength when claiming my own personal freedom.”

                     Fiona, age 18

Peirce, Lincoln (2019).  Big Nate Hug It Out!  Andrews McMeel Publishing

My students insisted that the Big Nate series is a must for any graphic novel collection.  Kids relate to the perspective of Nate, both the outrageous and funny.  It reminds me of how I loved Dennis the Menace in the newspaper comics when I was a kid.

Sixth grade is no picnic for Nate Wright. His pal Francis won’t stop bombarding him with useless trivia. A wild pitch knocks him out of a ballgame and into the emergency room. And the only thing standing between Nate and summer school is a study session with the worst possible tutor: his too-obnoxious-for-words arch enemy, Gina. But a chance encounter on an amusement park ride could change everything. Meanwhile, the troubles are piling up in this hilarious new collection of Big Nate comics, and there may be only one thing for Nate to do: HUG IT OUT! In this brand-new collection of comics from the New York Times bestselling series Big Nate, everyone’s favorite sixth-grade prankster is back for more hilarious misadventures — and even a little romance! (less)

Telgemeier, Raina (2014) Sisters.  Scholastic.

Weeks, Sara, Gita Varadarajan (2016)Save Me A Seat.  Scholastic.

Grade 5 brings many changing and complex relationships to navigate.  Ravi comes from India and struggles to be seen as intelligent due to his accent and cultural experience that is different from his peers in a school in the US.  Joe is also misunderstood and underestimated from an auditory processing disability.  This is a great story for students to develop empathy and understanding.

Literary Awards

Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Nominee (2018)William Allen White Children’s Book Award Nominee (2019)Bluestem Book Award Nominee (2018)

Self-Regulation and Mindfulness:

Challenge and Resilience:

Kwame, Alexander (2014).  The Crossover.  Houghton Mifflin.

Kwame Alexander writes a series of poems about 12 year old twins, Josh and Jordan Bell.  The poetry mirrors the game.  The game is a metaphor for life.  They are awesome on the court but need to navigate relationships off the basketball court too. 

Literary Awards

Newbery Medal (2015)Massachusetts Children’s Book Award (2020)Pennsylvania Young Readers’ Choice Award Nominee for Grades 6-8 (2016)Rhode Island Teen Book Award Nominee (2017)Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Nominee (2016)

Evergreen Teen Book Award (2017)Coretta Scott King Book Award for Author Honor (2015)Charlie May Simon Children’s Book Award (2017)North Carolina Young Adult Book Award for Middle School (2016)Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Middle Grade & Children’s (2014)NCTE Charlotte Huck Honor Book (2015)Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award (2017)

Alexander,  Kwame , Rand Hess, Mary (2018).  Swing.  Blink.

Another amazing poetic masterpiece by Kwame Alexander. A likeable kid navigating through adolescence. An older brother returns from war having done his patriotic duty. Clearly suffering from PTSD. Clearly having proved himself as a patriotic American. Yet it is not enough to stave off the racism that is rampant in the United States.

Alexander, Kwame (2018).  Rebound.  HMH Books for Young Readers.

I LOVED this book. It made me laugh. It made me cry. It made me appreciate the power of literature in helping us make sense of our lives. Kwame Alexander tells a story through poetry and makes the pain of loss palpable. Love of a supportive family and friendship helps Charlie learn to rebound on and off the basketball court.

Literary Awards

Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominee (2020)Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Poetry (2018)Carnegie Medal Nominee (2019)

Colfer, Eoin, Donkin, Andrew, Rigano, Giovanni (Illustrat0r) (2018).  Illegal

Sourcebooks jabberwocky.

This graphic novel follows the perilous journey of Ebo from Ghana, to Europe in search of a better life and reunion with his family.  It challenges the notion that any human being can be illegal and explores the plight of immigrants in search of new beginnings with a more promising future.

Literary Awards:

2019 Excellence in Graphic Literature Award

Gold Medal Award 2019 by Parents’ Choice Foundation

Palacio, R.J., (2019).  White Bird.  Knopf Books for Young Readers.

The graphic novel format allows the depth of the realities of Hitler’s Nazi Germany to be exposed via pictures and text.  Auggie’s bully from Wonder is given depth through the story of his Grandmere’s experience and loss as a young Jewish girl in Vichy France during World War II.  The afterword, author’s note, glossary, suggested readings and resources for further study, make it a credible source for further learning.  The grandson FaceTiming with his Grandmere grounds the relevance of the story in the present.

Literary Awards

Sydney Taylor Book Award for Middle Grade (2020)

Palacio, R.J., (2012). Wonder.  Alfred A. Knopf.

August Pullman does not want his facial difference to prevent him from being treated like any other kid in Grade 5.  A must read for ALL middle school kids!  Great way to consider perspective of students who look different and reflect on your own reactions.

Literary Awards

Josette Frank Award (2013)Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominee (2013)West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award (WAYRBA) for Younger Readers (2013)South Carolina Book Award for Children’s Book (2014)Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award (2014)

Charlie May Simon Children’s Book Award (2015)Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis for Preis der Jugendjury (2014)New Mexico Land of Enchantment Award for Children (2014)California Young Readers Medal for Intermediate (2015)James Cook Book Award Nominee (2013)Judy Lopez Memorial Award for Children’s Literature (2013)Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice for Grades 3-5 (2015)NAIBA Book of the Year for Middle Readers (2012)Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for 5-12 years (2013)Washington State Sasquatch Award Nominee (2015)Bluestem Book Award (2014)Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Middle Grade & Children’s (2012)Carnegie Medal Nominee (2013)North Carolina Children’s Book Award (2014)Premio El Templo de las Mil Puertas Nominee for Mejor novela extranjera independiente (2012)Rhode Island Children’s Book Award (2014)FAB Award Nominee (2014)Rebecca Caudill Y

Telgemeier, Raina (2019).  Guts.  Scholastic.

Raina Telgemeier is a highly recommended graphic novelist, by my upper intermediate students.  We can’t keep her books on the shelf in our school library.  This author has been able to tap into the integrated use of pictures and text to allow stories about mental health issues that are not often talked about, and yet experienced.  In this book she shares her experience with anxiety, a therapist, and the reactions of her friends, family and teachers.  The author’s note at the end provides a pathway forward and underlines the importance of talking about your feelings.  Great graphic novel.

Literary Awards

Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Middle Grade & Children’s (2019)

Wisdom from Ancestors:

Yahgulanaas, Michael Nicoll (2009).  Red:  A Haida Manga.  Douglas McIntyre.

Classic Haida visual art is morphed with the Japanese manga in the book.  It tells a classic Haida legend that warns of the danger of the rage of revenge.  The artwork is amazing.  Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas creates his storyboard with overlying Indigenous image.  The first time I read this graphic novel, I didn’t understand the genre.  Coming back, I’m amazed with the Indigenous voice in a very original art form.

Yahgulanaas, Michael Nicoll (2017).  War of the Blink.  Locarno Press. 

This story unfolds in the newly emerging Haida manga style based on the original Japanese manga.  The imagery of the Haida culture has as much of role in telling the story as does the text.  A graphic novel about war and peace. It explores the bravery required to make peace. An earlier version of the artwork was displayed at the Vancouver Art Gallery a part of the groundbreaking exhibition “Raven Travelling.

Playful Ideas:

Secondary

Identity:

Self-Regulation and Mindfulness:

Challenge and Resilience:

Wisdom from Ancestors:

Playful Ideas:

Educators and Adults

Identity:

Self-Regulation and Mindfulness:

Carrington, Judy (2019).  Kids These Days.  Friesen Press.

This book is more for educators working with students than it is for students.  This book is about connecting with students and how Emotional Regulation works and why it’s the key to changing the world.

Challenge and Resilience:

Wisdom from Ancestors:

Playful Ideas:

BC Literacy Council in Action

After many years of inactivity, the British Columbia Literacy Council of the International Literacy Association was reinvigorated with new energy and revitalization last fall. We took off running. The executive council organized and facilitated three successful events and had a lot of fun doing it. You can read more about it on our website readingbc.ca. We also actively participated in social media @BCLiteracyCoun1. Then … COVID-19. It took the wind out of our sails during spring and summer, but we are back.

Graphic Novel Panel Discussion

The BCLCILA hosted it’s AGM this past week. Thanks to the interested members that attended the AGM and congratulations to our 2020-2021 Executive:

Past President – Mike Bowden

  • Also, a newly named director of the British Columbia Superintendent’s Association (BCSSA)
  • Recently published his 4th book – distributed by Strong Nations Publisher
  • Indigenous Leader and District Principal in Kamloops

President – Carrie Froese

  • Lifelong literacy and social justice advocate
  • Principal of David Livingstone Elementary in Vancouver
  • Blogger – Inquire2Empower;  Tweeter @CarrieFroese @BCLiteracyCoun1

Vice President – Linda Klassen

  • Principal of Coghlan Fundamental Elementary School in Langley
  • Champion of the arts and Indigenous ways of knowing

Treasurer – Garth Brooks

  • Lifelong International Literacy Association member and executive member Canadian National Special Interest Group of the ILA
  • Past National Coordinator of Project Love Letter Writing Project

Membership Secretary – Kelly Patrick

  • Librarian at Point Grey Secondary School in Vancouver
  • Author of The Kelman Sisters’ Cookbook

Secretary – Kathryn Self Ransdell

  • Orton Gillingham trained tutor and active PAC member of General Gordon Elementary in Vancouver

Our Provincial Coordinator – Karen Addie

  • Literacy Consultant with PhD in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Technology
  • Experienced teacher in public and private system, Vice principal in the public education system 

We are ready to pivot and explore other ways to involve and support literacy advocates in British Columbia in a COVID-19 world.  I have found Twitter to be an excellent source of professional development.  It has also been a way to develop relationships with people who have common interests.  One of my teachers at David Livingstone Elementary School, Karen Lirenman, wrote her book, Innovate with iPad – Lessons to Transform Learning, with a colleague, Karen Wideen, who she met and collaborated with online.  I recommend you follow @BCLiteracyCoun1 and executive members who are active on Twitter @CarrieFroese @k_addie @KlassenLinda @TheDuke_247 @tlslovebooks  Our ILA Provincial Coordinator, Karen Addie, is also exploring ways for us to engage and collaborate in virtual spaces.  We are planning to do some Twitter Chats this year to invite participation in the creation of our British Columbia Literacy Association Annotated Booklist 2020-2021 to support social emotional learning in schools.  This will be publicized through twitter so be sure to follow. 

The COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter Movement has focused attention on social emotional learning like never before.  We would be negligent as educators if we failed to acknowledge the need to carefully consider and implement supports for our students.  Our ultimate goal is to empower our learners with a sense that they are cared for and valued as a springboard for engaging in their learning journey.  As a bunch of book lovers in the British Columbia Literacy Council, we of course came to the conclusion that books are a perfect way to provide supports for our students at school and a home. 

There are many booklists that have been collated for a variety of purposes.  Our goal is to create a booklist that addressed the following:

  1.  Anecdotal Reference by educators to specify the appropriate audience and possible uses of the text in terms of social emotional learning and BC core competencies. 
  • Representation – In order to feel valued and included in our school communities, our students need to see themselves as part of the community.  This includes students who identify, live or learn in ways outside on the dominant group in the school community.  This also includes our Indigenous, Black, and people of colour. 
  • Stress and Coping – Books that help students to understand stress in our lives and possible coping strategies.
  • Working for Social Justice – Books to help students explore what makes us human, our basic rights, freedoms, and our responsibilities as anti-racists in our school, our community, and our world. 

This is a large task and will require that we engage not only our current membership but also capture the imagination of other literacy educators and parents in British Columbia.  We are inviting mass participation online.  Participants are asked to become International Literacy Association members.  All people who join the International Literacy Association in British Columbia are automatically members of the British Columbia Literacy Council of the International Literacy Association.  There are numerous membership options, and a hardcopy or online newspaper is included.  There is also the opportunity to add popular International Literacy Association publications, such as The Reading Teacher and Reading Research Quarterly to your membership.

BCLCILA members who contribute to the British Columbia Literacy Association Annotated Booklist 2020-2021 will receive one of the titles from our booklist to use with children.  Widespread participation in this project is encouraged.  You are invited to submit as many entries as you wish.  Please complete one form per book.  Please note one book will be sent to each BCLCILA member participating in this project to celebrate our collaborative online project.  All submissions must be made via THIS LINK.  The information submissions can be displayed in an excel spreadsheet and organized for publication. 

In March, my big risk-taking venture was connecting with my Livingstone students via Video Tweets.  I have upped my game and I’m reading an SEL books weekly  – Ms. Froese Reads on my own YouTube Channel.  It’s still a big risk but I’ve come a long way from my initial Video Tweets.  This is being published on my school wide Office 365  TEAM and tweeted on the school twitter account and @BCLiteracyCounc1   You are welcome to use it with your students.    I’m feeling very grateful to have a team of people still engaged in doing the work of supporting our teachers and students.  We hope you’ll enjoy us in this positive and proactive engagement.  We’re always open to new ideas.  We hope to hear from you.

Maintaining Principal Communication with Kids During “School At Home”

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 5.59.08 PM

 A smile.  “Good morning” at the door or the school.  “Hi” in the hallway.  Chatting on the playground.  Working together in the school garden.  Navigating through conflict.  Teaching calm down strategies, conflict resolution skills, and perhaps kindness. Supporting budding leaders in their ventures.  Visiting classrooms to talk with students about their learning.  These are some of the ways that principals and vice-principals develop relationships and communicate with students.  It may serve as an invitation to other conversations.  It may establish a welcoming tone in the school. So what do principals do when a global pandemic keeps all of the students at home?

At this time of COVID-19 more than ever, we want to re-assure students of the constants in their lives.  They still belong to a school community that cares about them.  We have a number of strategies to keep ourselves safe and healthy.  Teachers are doing a great job of reaching out to re-establish strong classroom connections and provide learning opportunities at home.  Teachers are communicating via email, phone, text, and online.  On line platform such as Teams Classroom, My BluePrint, and Showbie are allowing students to access lessons, assignments, and opportunities at my school.  Support materials are being provided to support students.

My quest as a school principal is to find ways to make students feel part of their larger school community.  Can it be done?  I’m a confirmed optimist, so I believe it can.  The “Together We’re Better” has become a tagline.  However, the tagline emerges from an essential truth.  At difficult times, we need to come together to support one another.  For some students, it may be one part of a well-developed support network.  For other students, it will be a lifeline.  I want every child to have at least one adult who they are comfortable to reach out too.  I am trying some things that I hope will make a difference.

  1. Video-tweeting a message everyday while students are not able to come to school to learn.   Our school Twitter feed @LivingstoneVSB is a link on the school website so it can easily be accessed by students without a Twitter account.
  2. Sending weekly newsletters to students when I send home the newsletter to parents / guardians.  This week I shared a recipe from my maternal grand-mother and the story that makes it special.  See sample below.

    img_9957-1
    Nanny Keenan as a girl in Brandon, Manitoba
  3. Sharing some activities and opportunities that can be adapted from Kindergarten to Grade 7 on the Livingstone school website.  I am hoping it will provide some areas of common experience, much like when we have a school assembly or program.
  4. Providing links and opportunities for online activities and resources from our community partners. The entire school participated in the Project Chef In-Residence Program this year.  It was a highly enjoyable learning experience that left Chef Barb and her talented foodie crew, near and dear to our hearts.  Yoga Buggy provided a program through a partnership agreement with our Tupper Community School Team to introduce students to yoga and support our goal of developing greater mindfulness.  Yoga Buggy then provided a program for our Grade 1,2, and 3 classrooms.  I am hoping that the familiarity and the background knowledge developed in programs like these will allow students to try the learning opportunities on these links at home.

I’m making the commitment to take risks and try some new things outside of my comfort zone.  This is exactly what we asking teachers, students and parents to do.  I have a few ideas in mind, but I’m hoping this blog will bring me some new ideas to try.  Two things I love about blogging:  It helps me to clarify my thinking about what matters most and it always precipitates conversation.  I’m always open to the conversations that push my thinking and provide other possibilities.   I hope to hear from you.

Stay safe.  Be gentle with yourself. 

 Addendum:  Most recent letter to students:

Friday, April 17, 2020

Dear Livingstone Students,

Week 3 of #SchoolAtHome or #HomeAtSchool – depending on your perspective.  The sunshine has been glorious this week.  We have almost broken the record for the most sunny days in April in over 100 years!  Great for our ability to get outside and enjoy some activity outside.  For many of us, it is one of our “Dozen Ways to Feel #Joy” during this tumultuous time of COVID-19!

Students have been learning with teachers, parents and siblings in some interesting new ways.   Many of you have shared that you have been enjoying baking.  Me, too.  #Joy I’m going to share my Nanny Keenan’s recipe for Oatcakes.  Nanny was my Mom’s mother.  She was born in Brandon, Manitoba but her Mom, my great-grandmother, was born in Scotland.  Oatcakes are a very Scottish treat.  I spent lots of time with my Nanny Keenan.  As soon as I’d walk in the door with my Mom or my aunts, she’d get us to put on the kettle for a “cuppa” tea.  Oatcakes are perfect for a tea party.

Nanny Keenan’s Oatcakes

img_5315

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

2 cups quick oats

½ cup sugar

¾ cup shortening

Salt

¼ cup shortening with ½ teaspoon baking soda

Optional – a handful of brown sugar and a bit of cinnamon   ( I tried this variation after I had some amazing oatcakes on a biking trip on Prince Edward Island.)

Directions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Sprinkle flour on a cutting board, then roll out the dough with a rolling pin dusted with flour. You can decide if you want them thinner or thicker.
  3. My Nanny Keenan cut the pieces in triangles so she would use all of the dough the first time. Sometimes I roll out the dough and use a cup to cut circles.  I think they look fancier.  Then you have to roll out the dough a second time to use the remaining dough.  Nanny Keenan hated waste so she ALWAYS cut triangles.
  4. Bake from 8-12 minutes until golden brown.

Go to the School Website to see today’s video-tweet @LIvingstoneVSB of Miranda and what she’s been baking. Yum.  Enjoy.

I would love to have stories, pictures of your work, and any thoughts about what would be fun learning activities for your peers.  Let me know if you are okay with me posting your work on the school Twitter feed @LivingstoneVSB and the school website.  I would love to hear from you.  I miss you.

From,

 

Ms. Froese

Winning at Life

 

IMG_6471 2
High School Graduation from Magee Secondary – One Win

Simon Sinek could define school as a finite game that you choose to play.  It has an agreed set of rules that must be followed to win.  Do the work.  Pass the test.  Win with good grades.  Graduate.  Gordon, Renee and I were taking the win as we traipsed across the stag.  However, Life is an infinite game.  There is not an agreed upon set of rules.  How do you know if you’re winning?

Teachers have a special role in helping students to meet with success at school.  Teachers hone a skill set that takes their own personal interests and desire to teach children while focusing on ways to develop the skills for students to win at life.  This includes engaging in learning, developing healthy relationships, demonstrating resilience in the face of loss, and the flexibility and thinking skills to cope with change.   If the teacher is from British Columbia, they are challenged to consider how content can be used to develop core competencies (thinking, communicating, personal/ social)  to succeed in the requirements of daily personal and social life, currently defined jobs and those jobs that will emerge as possibilities in the future.

The most basic premise of self-regulation is the ability to manage your own emotions.  Accomplishing this task is the very basis of success in every aspect of life.  The flight or fight response is a basic instinct in animals in response to perceived danger.  This response is helpful to human beings when faced by a predator.  However, this response is not at all helpful in resolving conflicts with peers or persevering to solve a difficult math equation.  Teaching children to regulate their emotions, allows them to take control of the response of the reptilian brain to fight or run, and use strategies to calm down.  Only when students are calm, are they able to problem solve and learn effectively.  Dr Stuart Shanker isolates five domains of self-regulation:

  • biological
  • emotion
  • cognitive
  • social
  • pro-social

Considering the strengths and areas for development in all of these five domains requires a different approach to writing curriculum, teaching and reporting student learning to parents.  The old rules of playing the game included defining a specific body of information to memorize, testing to demonstrate mastery and grades to rank performance.  The playing field has broadened and so have the rules and the complexity of the game.  The intention of reporting student learning is to provide a teacher perspective about learning at a specific point in time that incorporates student voice.

Areas of strength are presented and often reflect student enthusiasm and focused attention.   Areas for further growth may reflect a need for repetition and practice, persistence, or use of strategies to focus attention.  Including the ways to support the student in developing the weaker areas or nurture burgeoning talents, keeps us responsible to attending to the specific needs of each child.  The ultimate goal is for the teacher, child and families to engage in celebration and goal setting in response to this information.

The British Columbia Ministry of Education mandates a minimum or five reports to parents.  The intention is to take into consideration the diverse ways that teachers engage parents in participating in the learning of their child.  It capitalizes on the research by John Hattie et al. that emphasizes improved student learning when parents are involved.  Conferences, formal report cards, celebrations of learning, phone calls, interim reports, notes home, and student agendas are all possible ways that teachers structure communication to involve parents in the learning of their child.  If you still have questions, call the teacher.  They undoubtedly will have more to say.

Weathering the Storm

This week Vancouver, British Columbia was smacked with a rarity – a snowstorm.  Not just the light dusting followed with the creation of muddy snowmen and snowballs filled with gravel.  A real snowstorm that went on for days.  A snowstorm that wreaked havoc with the roads and put heating systems into overdrive.  A snowstorm that even closed down  Vancouver schools to all but the principal and the janitor / custodian for a day.  A snowstorm that coloured clouds pink, dusted local ski hills and delighted both children and the young at heart.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

The response to the snowstorm is determined not only by levels of job responsibility but also basic personality.  As a school principal, you have ultimate responsibility to ensure safety of your school, staff and students.  Even when the schools are closed, you make your way to the school to ensure no one is left outdoors with nowhere to go.  The snowstorm triggered an immediate response for me to analyse the data and devise a plan to conquer adversity.  For others, it was an opportunity to get out and play.  For still others, it was an opportunity to plug in the kettle, and settle into the warmth of cozy spaces and wait it out.

The valiant fight with the storm would begin just before 6 am for me.  The snow on the hills and side streets was compacted to slick ice by the snowboarders and people with sliding apparatus of many shapes and sizes the night before.  My wonderful RAV4 SUV was designed to battle this kind of beast.  But no, I did not want to subject the deep red paint to the ravages of Vancouver drivers in the snow.  And yes, the chances of being sideswiped or rear ended had just increased exponentially.

No longer living in the suburbs, I had a variety of transportation options – partial drive on the warmer road by the seashore, foot, SkyTrain, bus, and by car on the final day, mostly because treats for staff and visitors took priority. However, the upside of doing battle is the realization that you can.  I had already discovered that riding my bike to school was a great option on sunny days when I don’t have important meetings and have factored in some extra time.  However, in battling the “big snowstorm”, I discovered, yes, I can walk to school.  The SkyTrain from Cambie is only two stops and drops me off right beside a Tim Horton’s.  Bonus!  I love walking down Main Street from 23rd Avenue after school and checking out the restaurants and shops.  My favourite restaurant, The Sandbar, has a great Happy Hour.  Snow covered branches on side streets are gorgeous.  People love to be thanked for shovelling the streets in front of their houses.  Yes, challenges bring new learning, surprise encounters, and joy.

Yes, on those long walks this past week, I have had time to ponder life and celebrate the resilient  heroine in the audiobook of my February book club selection (Where the Crawdads Sing).  Being “right” or “being just” or “bullied” in my life has led me into impossible battles and lots of learning.  Defeats are not always decimating.  Victories are not always empowering or celebrations.  The trick seems to be deciding which battles are worth fighting.  I now have an emerging set of rules to guide the decision.

Rule #1

Perhaps my most significant learning was not to engage in battles with those people who live for the fight.  The saying “Never fight with a pig.  You both get dirty, but the pig likes it.”  True.  True.  True.  Those are the times to walk away without a response.  If people choose to listen to the pig, it is because they have their own motivation to do so.  This is what my pretty, wide eyed mother never understood.  Document your truth in a journal, with a therapist, or in your own notes, but never waste the effort on the pig.

Rule #2

Growing up, my Mom always had a copy of Desiderata, on the wall:  “Speak your truth quietly and clearly”.  Appearances mattered to my mother and as a young, divorced woman with limited resources, her goal was for her and her girls to be treated with respect.  Her truth was buried behind the iron walls of a vault that she kept closed, until she could no longer contain it.  It took me a long time to understand that the lies she kept, burdened her heart, robbed her of joy and empowered those who lied.   Yes, truth matters.  It is worth the battle.

Rule #3

Sometimes acquiescing to daunting power results in a sense of unhappiness, powerlessness and futility in the face of unfairness.  Sometimes you need to stand up for yourself or others even though it may come at a cost.  You may not always experience victory, but you will experience the satisfaction of a  battle well fought on your own terms.  Sometimes you need to do battle to maintain your belief in your own self- worth.

My perception of myself is that I am far more mellow since I turned 50.  Perhaps only those who knew me in my youth will agree.  Even in the midst of the more mellow me, I will choose if I will battle the beast.  I will continue to fight for a world in which respect is a common denominator.  I will be an Amnesty International member for the rest of my life and fight for human rights.  I will speak my truth and weather the storm.  Or if on this snowy Saturday morning, I decide to just make another cup of coffee and delight in the snow and my cozy condo in Kits, I will.

Exploring Educational Change with Educators in Vancouver, British Columbia

Educational change is an exciting topic with he promise of many pro-active, positive changes in educational systems around the world.  I am working with secondary teachers at Royal Bridge Education Group in Coquitlam today.  We will be engaging in learning about educational change and responding to the ideas using strategies and tools to engage learners in other contexts.  I will be encouraging participants to set up a Twitter Account and respond to the ideas and the strategies and tools on a Twitterchat @CarrieFroese #edchat #edchange #bcedchat with a corresponding A(nswer)1 if a Q(uestion)1 is asked.   It would be great if interested blog readers also participated.

I will be providing front-end loading about educational change, in both global and British Columbia contexts.

Enter provide your feedback in our TwitterChat @CarrieFroese #edchange #edchat

In our discussions of educational change, I will be focusing on the following thinkers and content from a number of sources.  The following links provide some extension materials to supplement materials presented in class and to provoke deep thinking. 

BC Ministry of Education

Explore Educational Change in British Columbia: 

■BC Ministry of Education Website   https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/

■Content Area Material K-12   https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/curriculum/

■Existing and New Curriculum Comparison https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/sites/curriculum.gov.bc.ca/files/pdf/curriculum-comparison-guide.pdf

I love this Search Tool – Big Ideas / Content/ Curricular Competencies / Subjects / Integration  Take some time to explore the possibilities

https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/curriculum/search

Carol Dweck – Mindset

Michael Fullan

Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser / NOIIE_BC

Spiral of Learning by Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser

Judy and Linda speaking from Barcelona.  A great overview and discussion in 20-30 minutes.

http://www.debats.cat/en/debates/spiral-inquiry-tool-educational-transformation

Laura Tait 

First Nations Principles of Learning

Inquire2Empower  The Indigenous Voice carriefroese.wordpress.com

 

John Hattie and Helen Timperley

Making learning visible with John Hattie – Know Thy Impact

The Research of John Hattie

In 2009 Professor John Hattie published Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. This groundbreaking book synthesized the findings from 800 meta-analysis of 50,000 research studies involving more than 150 million students and it built a story about the power of teachers and of feedback, and constructed a model of learning and understanding by pointing out what works best in improving student learning outcomes.

Since then, John Hattie has continued to collect and aggregate meta-analyses to the Visible Learning database. His latest dataset synthesizes more than 1,600 meta-analyses of more than 95,000 studies involving more than 300 million students. This is the world’s largest evidence base into what works best in schools to improve learning.

Download the full 250+ Influences Chart here.

https://www.visiblelearningplus.com/content/research-john-hattie

Feedback: The communication of praise, criticism, and advice with an article about ‘Feedback in schools’.

The Power of Feedback – A PowToon explaining the ideas of John Hattie and Helen Timperley with respect to providing feedback to learners.

 

David Istance /The OECD – The 7 Principles of Learning

OECD – Centre for Educational Research and Innovation – The Nature of Learning (2010) – Using Research to Inspire Practice, Edited by Hanna Dumont, David Istance and Francisco Benavides / Practitioner’s Guide (2012)

http://www.oecd.org/education/ceri/50300814.pdf

7+3 Chart

http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/content/download/80599/660652/file/Seven%20le

Sherri Stephens-Carter – The Five Whys

A variety of strategies, processes and tools will be used to prompt learner engagement with the materials and support collaborative practices in class.  They may include the following.  We will be discussing the possible teaching applications for these strategies, tools, and processes.   All ideas are welcomed @CarrieFroese #edchat #edchange

#Blogging

#Carousel

Checklist for #VisibleLearning Inside

#GalleryWalk

#InfinityLearningMap  Infinity Learning Maps  are a practical in-road into the science of learning-how-to-learn. The approach provides a tool for teachers to support students to draw a picture of how they see the interactions surrounding their learning.  http://infinitylearn.org/infinity-maps-2/

#Jigsaw

#Kahoot

#KWL – Know Wonder Learn – Donna Ogle – 1986

#PetchaKutcha

#Sli.do

#SpiralsofInquiry

#TenMinuteWrite

#TheFiveWhys – Japanese tool

#ThinkPairShare – a collaborative teaching strategy developed by Frank Lyman of the University of Maryland in 1981

#ThreeStepProcessforChange #Fullan

#Twitter

#TwitterChat

Wild About Vancouver and More…

I am on the Steering Committee of a group called Wild About Vancouver, brainchild of our fearless leader, Dr. Hart Banack, UBC.  This is a particularly good opportunity because I get together with people who experience the concept of #GetOutdoors on so many different levels.  Our conversation started with a goal of organizing an outdoor festival to get people of all ages out as participants and stewards of our amazing city, Vancouver, British Columbia.  Yes, Canada for those of you familiar with another Vancouver, south of our border.   Vancouver in itself provides many opportunities for outdoor activity and is widely known for the active lifestyle of it’s residents.  The outdoors provides many possibilities to enhance mental health, physical well-being, environment awareness and action, as well as curricular instruction.

img_8714

I am writing this blog on the deck of my father’s cabin in the Eastern Sierras at the doorstep of Yosemite.  Just like my first visit at 9 years old and ever after, I am awake before anyone else.  This was one of my favorite places to be when I was a little girl on visits with my older sister down south to see my father, step-mother, and later younger siblings.  I could get up and out.  No burglar alarm to be dis-armed.  There were discoveries to be made and other early risers in the world.  And I had energy to expend.  Lots and lots of energy.  Cabin life allowed for that to be a natural part of life.  We hiked beyond the waterfall.  Rowed.  Played “Kick the Can” endlessly with the other cabin kids.  Tried to steer the motor boat clear of the dangers of pipes hidden in reeds, sand bars and trees in the lake and on the “jungle cruise” aka stream.  Fishing was a challenge for me unless we were casting and then reeling those rainbow trout in.  I was a high activity kid.  As an educator and a Mom, I had a personally tested strategy of using the outdoors as a way to increase focus in the classroom and to get kids to sleep at night.

I carried the habit of running, biking, hiking, and physically challenging myself into adulthood.  I learned as an adult that no one actually cared how you did at something.  Sometimes just trying was a victory.  I did my first Terry Fox 10 km Run for Cancer Research at the urging of my husband.  I believed passionately in the cause.  I watched Terry run on the nightly news and my Mom had already suffered her first bout of breast cancer.  I hit the 9 km mark and thought I was going to have to stop when a volunteer on the sideline yelled “good form”.  That carried me to the finish line with renewed energy, through many Sun Runs, My First and only Triathlon at Cultus Lake, and getting back to running after pregnancies and injuries.  Experiences skiing during my high school years, made learning to snowboard achievable.  Familiarity on my bike made the bike trip through the Prince Edward Island a glorious adventure.   A willingness to try some new physical challenge frequently ended with an increased sense of pride.  When that didn’t happen, it resulted in a good story, frequently filled with laughter.

When I graduated from the University of British Columbia, it was the 80’s and very difficult to get a teaching job in Vancouver.  I did another year at UBC to get a diploma in English Education while continuing to worked in a daycare / out of school care centre.  My quest “to teach” was infused with my supervision responsibilities.  I got my Class 4 driver’s license and we took those pre-schoolers all over the lower mainland of Vancouver to explore.  School aged kids were welcomed to Sparetime Fun Centre after school and organized into clubs.  We went outside to collect materials for arts and crafts.  We ran. We danced.  We played.  We learned.  By the time I got a full-time job at 22, learning through play indoors and outdoors was a well-established part of my understanding of how you establish rapport and create bridges between experience and curriculum.

image

I did my mandatory “out of town” practicum in Abbotsford, British Columbia, because I could stay for free with my paternal grand-parents.  When I had my son, I wanted to be closer to home  and started working in Coquitlam, where we had purchased our first home.  When our youngest daughter went off to Queen’s University, my husband and I promptly moved back to Vancouver where I grew up and both of us lived, prior to kids.   The place I was teaching, determined how I went about teaching the curriculum.  In Abbotsford, background experience of students included experiences with gardens, cows, berry picking, farms and the ever-present smell of manure from spring to fall.  In Coquitlam, salmon spawning in streams, raccoons in garbage, bear awareness when hiking or running in the park, and deer wandering on roads was common place.  In Vancouver, walking and biking as a preferred mode of transportation, many local mountains for skiing and snowboarding, beaches, seagulls, crows and ethnic cuisine permeates life.  This awareness of place has increasingly become part of education as we have reflected on how we incorporate understandings that are implicit in the Indigenous cultures that were present long before Canada emerged as a country.

img_9649

The location of the school in British Columbia impacts how many Indigenous students attend.  This sometimes provides a block for staffs trying to authentically incorporate Indigenous teachings into the curriculum.  However, the sense of place provides an entry point for all students to gain insight into Indigenous ways of knowing.  Examining how the place we live impacts our experiences, lends itself to going outdoors and considering our present and historical context.  Many things in life cannot be anticipated or guaranteed with confidence.  If you live in Vancouver, I can guarantee that it will rain and I can even tell you what that smells like.  As a 6-year-old in Venice, my daughter looked up at me and smiled and said “It smells like home, Mummy”, when it started to rain.  These understandings over time are the things we can learn from the stories from our local Indigenous people. Medicine Wheel teachings that have been incorporated into many Indigenous cultures have much to teach about how we make decisions, resolve conflict and achieve mental health.

My mother was in the hospital awaiting a procedure when I was called into the room to calm her down.

My response, “Breathe, Mum…No.  Not like that.  Into your abdomen…  You know…Yoga, breathing.  No.  Not like that.”

My mother’s exasperated response:  “You mean I’ve been breathing wrong my whole life?”

The poor nurses came running when we both burst out in uncontrollable laughter with tears running down our faces.  They thought they had lost us both.  However, there is a reason that the Japanese have taken the world by storm with “Shrin-yoko” or “forest bathing” since the 1980’s, yoga practices have become common place for people of all religions, and Indigenous teachings to improve physical and mental health are being considered.  They teach contemplative practices and breathing that is very much centred on experience in nature.  As a special education teacher and school principal, much of my work has been teaching students how to self-calm BEFORE problem solving.  The first step is always to slow down breathing and learn what strategies work for you.  My first go to strategy is physical activity but all of my students can tell you that a pot of Earl Grey tea works wonders for me.  The trick is to have more than one strategy that works for you.

img_9942

We have many amazing educators on the Wild About Vancouver Steering Committee.  Although I have many years of experience in education from kindergarten to the university level, as a classroom teacher, administrator and university instructor, I am constantly learning from our committee members who come with varied experiences and approaches to how they get children to pay attention to the nature around them.  Although I can’t prioritize what is most important about experiences outdoors, I strongly believe it is our success in getting children to pay attention that has the most significant impact on teaching curriculum.  When we closely consider something, we come up with the best questions.  The best questions result in the deepest learning and meaningful discovery.  Engaging with nature is a catalyst for curiosity and the learning that comes with it.

96701b6a-ef30-47b0-886c-a0057d445376-1

 

Wild About Vancouver Committee members have all come together because we love Vancouver and want to fully engage people of all ages outdoors in all our city that has so much to offer.  What we believe is most important varies with who you are talking to on the Steering Committee or what participant.  Our ideas and suggestions are very contextual in that we are sharing what we know as Vancouverites.  We have a one week long Wild About Vancouver Festival every year with a grand WAV event in the city.  However, the learning and the application of this learning is relevant in any context.  I have learned so much from participating in twitter chats and blogs originating in England and Germany.  I have also taken from Reggio Emilia early education teachings with roots in Italy by doing lots of reading and visiting the Opal School in Portland, Oregon.  And I’m pondering Wild About Vancouver at my Silver Lake playground in the East Sierras on the California – Nevada border.  This model of celebration of outdoor activity takes place in many cities.  The Wild About Vancouver model takes it one step further by incorporating a celebration of the outdoors with a striving to deepen the learning we take from nature in all aspects of our lives.

Please include us in your you tweets about Outdoor learning @WildAboutVan and tag us with #getoutdoors and #outdoorlearning in all social media posts.  For you Vancouverites, we are always looking for participants and Steering Committee members if you are so inclined.  Check us out at https://www.wildaboutvancouver.com/

Enjoy the day and #getoutdoors

Welcome to Our School

We are proud of our school and happy to welcome visitors into the conversation about learning.

img_4707

As a member of the VSB, I would like to acknowledge that we live, work and play on the unceded and traditional territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil Waututh) andsḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Coast Salish peoples.

We are delighted to be able to show you around and encourage you to ask lots of questions.  The following challenges are to help you engage with our students and staff and understand some of the priorities at our school.  The staff and students touring you around the school will be able to give you some understanding of the history, our peer helpers program, Indigenous ways of knowing and breaking down the barrier between learning outdoors and learning indoors.

Challenge 1 – Look for evidence of the 7 principles during your observation.  It may be helpful to use the 7 Principles of Learning Chart.

The OECD has pointed out that the rapid advances in ICT have resulted in a global shift to economies based on knowledge, and an emphasis on the skills required to thrive in them.  At the same time empirical research on how people learn, how the mind and brain develop, how interests form, and how people differ has expanded the sciences of learning.  The result is that the educational community is now “rethinking what is taught, how it is taught and how learning is assessed”.

The OECD’s work on innovative learning environments was led by Hanna Dumont, David Istance and Francisco Benavides. Their 2010 report “The Nature of Learning”  identified seven principles of learning:

  1. Learners at the centre
  2. The social nature of learning
  3. Emotions are central to learning
  4. Recognizing individual differences
  5. Stretching all students
  6. Assessment for learning
  7. Building horizontal connections

Challenge 2 – Engage in a conversation surrounding the Spirals questions. 

The Spirals of Inquiry by Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser lists three questions that will find helpful in engaging with students and staff.  Students are encouraged to look closely, notice details and ask questions to encourage learning in all aspects of their lives.  Many staff are involved in inquiry projects to explore their professional questions.  Vice principals and principals in the VSB are using these questions to guide their professional growth plans.

  • What are you learning and why is it important?
  • How is it going with your learning?
  • What are your next steps?

Challenge 3:  Note the development of core competencies in the classroom.The New Curriculum:  You will note that competencies and concept-based curriculum are intertwined with learning standards in B.C.’s New Curriculum. Core Competencies have become the focus of learning and they use content to develop the three main areas:

  1. Communication
  2. Creative and Critical Thinking Skills
  3. Personal and Social skills

Challenge 4:  Find examples of Student Voice and Competency Based Assessment The new curriculum has shifted the focus from summative assessment to formative assessment.  Students are encouraged to identify their starting point and formulate a plan for growth.  The focus has shifted from a deficit model to “I Can” statements.  Students are invited to be active participants in determining how they learn and planning for growth in skills, strategies, and collaborative practices.

Challenge 5:  The Canadian Experience – Note examples in the school of how students are being introduced to the role of Indigenous populations played in the development of Canada and our perceptions of Canadian identity.

Wab Kinew, hip hop artist, author, broadcaster, politician, Ojibwe activist, and leader of the NDP Party in Manitoba, has said “Reconciliation is realized when two people come together and understand what they share unites them and what is different about them needs to be respected.”  Authentic reconciliation happens when people develop relationships with one another.

img_4850

Challenge 5:  Identify several different types of learning spaces and the types of competencies being developed in those spaces. 

We have several options for student learning at UHill Elementary School.  Supervision is required in all spaces.  Classroom teachers work with SSA’s (Education Assistants), Resource teachers, the principal and students to explore possibilities to maximize student learning in a variety of spaces and places.

  • The Classroom – indoor and outdoor spaces
  • Outside Learning Spaces
    • The Readers Writing Garden (outside)
    • The We Are One Rock Circle (outside)
    • The Soccer Fields or basketball court (outside)
    • The Buddy Bench (outside)
    • Sidewalk games
  • Resource Rooms
  • The Gym
  • Collaboration Spaces outside classrooms
    • Foyer in the main entrance
    • The Starry Night Room / Room painted yellow
    • The Garden Room – currently the in residence program, Project Chef, is in this room
    • The Main Foyer
    • Library
    • The Learning Lab / Maker Space Room
    • Gym
  • Active Learning Room (ALR) / room painted white
    • Ready Bodies Learning Minds
    • Peer helpers Program, a Grade 5 Leadership Program, at 11:45 am facilitated by The Community School Team
  • Places to Self Calm, work quietly independently, with a partner or small group
    • Peace Pod / room painted blue and decorated with saris
    • The Think Space – in the Office area

Challenge 6:  Breaking Down the Barriers:  Identify examples where learning outdoors is brought into the classroom and where indoor learning is brought outdoors.

The places where we live and grow impact our experiences and our perceptions.  Living in a temperate rainforest, attending school in the Pacific Spirit Park, and walking down to Acadia Beach impacts the knowledge our students are developing but also how they self regulate.

img_4304

I am a big fan of Twitter to keep parents informed about what is happening at the school by posting updates and pertinent information @UHillElementary and to further my own professional learning @CarrieFroese

We hope you enjoyed your visit!

Ms. Carrie Froese @CFroese

Principal University Hill Elementary School

Vancouver School Board, British Columbia, Canada

Inquire2Empower Blog carriefroese.wordpress.com

Who are “Breakaway Learners”?

Sometimes, happenstance or serendipity, or whatever you want to call it, just happens.

Subject line in my overly full email inbox reads:  A seemingly out of the blue email from a children’ book author based in US and living at UBC
The text:   Long story short, I am a visiting scholar at UBC through March 5th and passed your school many times.  I write children’s books — which I have read to thousands of children of all ages and stages (ideal range is 2nd — 5th grades)… Seeing and being in schools and working with children of all ages and stages is what I do — and having been a university president and senior advisor to the US Department of Education, I am ever of the view that the most important education is that which occurs early…  And, for the record, I attach a photo of myself and a short bio so you can see I am legit.  

My Response:   Is there a cost attached to this great offer?

The beginning of another beautiful relationship that started online!  Karen Gross did come to University Hill Elementary School to share her stories with our students.  She captivated both teachers and students alike.  She was aware of our outdoor school and environmental focus and arrived with her newest children’s book, Lady Lucy’s Dragon Quest, a story about droughts and saving land and crops with a strong female protagonist with a collaborative approach to problem solving.  Our Korean students were thrilled that Korean students were the illustrators, who are now in college and who continue to illustrate.
2.  plasticity references the permanent change that occurs in the institution itself in response to required changes
3.  pivoting right references supporting students in their ability to make short and long term decisions that will bring abut the most favourable outcome
4.  reciprocity  that extends beyond student willingness to share ideas and commit to agreements with staff listening and responding, to institutions being responsive to the ideas and needs of their changing populations
5.  belief in self by teachers and institutions stepping away from a deficit model of education to one that builds on strengths

Wild About Vancouver

Wild About Vancouver is a celebration of the outdoors being held from April 18-25, 2018.  Activities are planned by individuals, schools, sports organizations and community groups and centres.  All activities planned during the week are free to participants.   The goal for the week is to generate lots of energy, ideas and momentum for participation in outdoor learning, activities and fun that continues well beyond the week long celebration.  There are lots of opportunities to participate.

  1. Get ideas and register on the Wild About Vancouver  website. Tweet out lesson ideas, activities, events and blog links.  Be sure to include @WildAboutVan so we can retweet and generate some excitement!

Hashtags #getoutside #getoutdoors #outdoorlearning #outdoorclassroom #natureschool 

3.  Email blog posts to banack@ubc.ca

4.  Encourage a friend to participate in an outdoor activity.

  • Ideas from University Hill Elementary School for the 2018 Wild About Vancouver
    • scheduled weekly nature school / outdoor learning experiences
    • Hatch butterflies in the classroom
    • Create a butterfly garden for them to live in when they are released
    • Create an Outdoor Classroom
    • Start a leadership group to teach playground games
    • Plant Potatoes.
    • Start Worm Composting
    • Raise salmon fry  and release them into the wild
    • Read Gillian Judson’s new book, A Walking Curriculum with your staff or community group and try out a few of the walks or ALL 60!
    • Host an Earth Day Barbeque

#GetOutside  #HaveFun

For those interested outdoor enthusiasts outside the Lower Mainland of Vancouver, British Columbia, consider of the continuing the movement in your community!