LOMCIRA has always been synonymous with “committed literacy educators”. Over the years, many people have come together to talk books (for old and young), kids and classroom environments. Many of you may have attended meetings at Schou in Burnaby, sharing sessions at VSB schools or conferences in hotels. This past year, LOMCIRA has gone into dormancy. Although there are still a wealth of committed literacy educators in the Lower Mainland, a group of people have not stepped into the existing International Reading Association group structure.
A unique opportunity exists for a group of like-minded individuals to step forward and create a new literacy group that meshes with their needs and goals. In the past, LOMCIRA took on large projects and invited researchers and published authors to stimulate discussion about applications of research into the classroom. A new group may decide to meet periodically throughout the year to discuss the latest ReadWriteThink ideas or invite an author to talk about their writing process.
BC Literacy Council members could also be invited to support the group and share their wealth of knowledge. In my capacity as provincial coordinator, I’d be more than happy to work with International Reading Association members to familiarize them with the opportunities in the IRA or ways to organize sharing sessions or meetings. Certainly all of us can tell you about the amazing opportunity of going the IRA Annual General Meetings like the one coming up in New Orleans. I presented with The Canadian contingent at an AGM in New Orleans. The Jazz Festival, the food, especially the beignes were as amazing as participating in symposiums and meetings with the people have written the books we love to discuss.
Please let me know if you would be willing to work with educators in the Lower Mainland in meeting the goals of bringing current research and quality literature into our classrooms.
I have the great pleasure of working with Virginia Bowden at Tecumseh this year. Through her work with students participating in The District Gifted/Enrichment Seminars and my role as Computer prep teacher with the District MACC students, we have arrived at convergent inquiry interests. Thanks to the mentoring of Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser – through both Vancouver sessions and their book, Spirals of Inquiry, we are making our way along the path toward framing our inquiry question. When we first sat down to scan what was going on for our kids and the experiences we were providing, we came up with some similar experiences and perceptions.
Both of us were exploring how technology could be used to not just replicate tasks done offline but help students to apply their background knowledge, make connections and actually deepen student thinking and reflection. Yes, and spark their interests, passions, and develop writing skills! Providing the assignment or conveying information through interest focused blogs (ie. http://tecumsehcomputerwhiz.wordpress.com/) became very teacher focused and invited conversational (chat-like) responses and comments not doing much more than scratching the surface. Our hunch was that blogging could be a way to allow students to go deeper by pushing their thinking – either in reflective responses or the ability to engage their audience in their writing. The quest is to discover the route.
I’m wondering about how student choice over the theme of their blog will impact the investment in creating thoughtful blog posts? Virginia is thinking a lot about how much class time is required for students to be able to reflect on their day in a way that pushes them to use their higher order thinking skills? Both of us wonder how thoughtful comments from peers can extend thinking?
In order to teach students about blogging in a somewhat protected environment, Virginia started using Kidblog. We both now have our groups set up in classes so students can write their own blog posts and invited comments from classmates without it having to be moderated by the teacher or necessitate use of pseudonyms. We’re also exploring the privileges that are extended to parents and guests. Virginia is focusing on daily reflections of learning throughout the day. I am focusing on developing student voice and ability to engage their target audience into blogs that reflect their own interests. We’re both still considering where we are going with our learning and what our students need from us to use technology to extend their thinking in thoughtful ways..
IRA and Rotary have joined together since 2002 to promote literacy and we are mutually encouraging each other to work on literacy issues close to home and internationally—whatever works for the local members. This year, the Pearson Foundation has funded two $2500 literacy awards towards literacy work that an IRA council or affiliate undertakes jointly with a Rotary club in 2014. Rotarians are eager to find ways to work with IRA on literacy projects. Rotary is a wonderful organization and one of their goals is to help improve global literacy. One more reason to work together with other International Reading Association members.
Mike Bowden will be going to the IRA AGM in New Orleans. He will be presenting with two other colleagues on behalf of the Indigenous Peoples Special Interest Group. They will be presenting a vocabulary research project they are doing within the Kamloops District in conjunction with Thompson Rivers University and Dr. Ramirez. Look for him and his team if you are heading down to New Orleans for the IRA Conference this May.
Since 1956, IRA has been a nonprofit, global network of individuals and institutions committed to worldwide literacy. More than 53,000 members strong, the Association supports literacy professionals through a wide range of resources, advocacy efforts, volunteerism, and professional development activities. Our members promote high levels of literacy for all by:
Improving the quality of reading instruction
Disseminating research and information about reading
Encouraging the lifetime reading habit
“Celebrating teachers and honoring effective literacy teaching in a changing world.”
The mission of the International Reading Association is to promote reading by continuously advancing the quality of literacy instruction and research worldwide.
One of my first official duties as Provincial Coordinator was to go visit Michael Bowden at his new school, Dufferin Elementary School, in Kamloops. Mike is a long time and very committed member of The International Reading Association. He has been working with a group of colleagues in the South Central region of British Columbia to come together to form a IRA literacy council. Our conversation focused on ways to bring together passionate literacy educators to discuss current research and applications in our classrooms. Check out their site at South Central Literacy Council. I believe several members from the South Central region will be heading down to New Orleans for the IRA AGM / Conference.
The International Reading Association is a wonderful source of information for educators about both reading research and classroom practice. It is structured to allow groups to come together and create communities of literacy learners. The provincial association in British Columbia is called The BC Literacy Council of The International Reading Association (BCLCIRA). ReadingBC has been adopted as the user friendly name for this group. Check out the website to read about local happenings and perspectives. You can also follow me on twitter @CarrieFroese. Our hashtag is #rdgBC
LOMCIRA (The Lower Mainland Council of the IRA) was the first council to be formed in British Columbia. Although it is currently dormant, the structure exists waiting for a vital group to come together and to breath new life into it. There have also been active councils in Kelowna and Victoria.