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Read with us!

If you haven’t yet had a chance to join the BCTELA summer book club, don’t worry: you still can! The coordinated date has been extended to July 6th.
This year we are reading about theories of Place-Based education. As this topic is still emerging as a area of study, we will be reading four articles rather than a single text.
Let us know if you have questions. If you’re ready to read, please download the form and send it to the address you’ll find at the bottom. We will send you the articles. The first two will be discussed on Twitter on July 9th, and the second two on August 11th (see the Important Dates in the sidebar to the left).

Summer is #BCTELAbook Club Season

Summer book clubWe are pleased to announce BCTELA’s third annual professional literature book club. Three years ago we started a pattern of book clubs over the summer as a lead-up to our fall conference. We have traditionally chosen professional literature authored by our upcoming keynote as a way to extend and deepen the conversations surrounding the themes of our conference.
This year we are continuing to connect our professional book club to the October conference. But this time, rather than choosing a text by our keynote speaker, we are using the theme of the conference as inspiration. The theme of the 2015 BCTELA provincial conference is “Story and the Landscapes of Learning” and centres on the ideas of place-based learning and the stories which make up our experience of ‘place.’

Instead of selecting one professional book as our book club text, we have chosen to build a text-set of four articles. The articles have been carefully chosen to provide a comprehensive foundation from which to further explore and discuss what it means to teach BC students to read and write stories set in BC.
The discussion format will be similar to what we have done in the past: we will use Twitter as an accessible platform and divide the reading into a few hour-long twitter chats. The chats will be on July 9th from 10-11am, and on August 11th from 11am-12pm. As usual, our tweets will be delineated by the hashtag #bctelabook.

If you are interested in reading along with us, download and fill out the 2015 BCTELA book club application and email it to Celia Brogan (address on the form) by June 25th.

English Practice wants your writing about place, identity and English language arts!

English Practice, the journal of the BC Teachers of English Language Arts, is a peer-reviewed, open access, online publication published twice annually.

We accept submissions under the following categories:

  • Teaching Ideas (classroom lessons and strategies)
  • Investigating our Practice (teacher inquiry)
  • Salon (Literary & arts-based pieces)
  • Check this Out (book reviews)

In line with the theme of the 2015 BCTELA conference we invite you to submit pieces for our our upcoming issue.

Call for articles – Spring 2016:  Story and the Landscapes of Learning 

A pheasant rises wild from the pea vines. 

A shadow settles in the maze of poverty grass. 

Home at last, I scrub my hands, the peasant’s song in me. 

(Patrick Lane, Washita, 2014, p. 50)

Powerful stories are located in our personal and social geographies. Our stories both shape our world and are shaped by our world, helping us to create identities from individual and shared experiences. In line with the BCTELA 2015 conference theme, English Practice invites you to submit teaching ideas, classroom inquiries and practice-focused research, reflective and critical narratives, poems, fiction and other arts-based renderings, as well as book reviews for our upcoming themed issue on place-based learning and English language arts. Entitled Story and the Landscapes of Learning this issue delves into the vital relationships between identity and the places in which we live and learn. We invite pieces that explore the role of place in informing our stories, our literacies and our practices, and pieces that help us to understand the role of English language arts in deepening our relationship to place and the environment.

Questions to consider might include:

How are we shaped by the places in which we live and learn? How is our environment our teacher? How does place influence our teaching practices? How do we make visible our relationships to our environment? What kinds of learning experiences do we owe our students so they can connect with, see themselves in, and become stewards of the places in which they live? How can we help students develop their own sense of home, place and identity through writing and texts?

Deadline: January 31st, 2016

Please see our <a href="http://bctela.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Criteria-and-guidelines acheter viagra original.pdf”>Criteria and guidelines for more information about the submission process, and send your queries and completed submissions to: englishpracticejournal@gmail.com

Editors: Pamela Richardson, Sara Davidson and Ashley Cail

 

 

Journey to Cowichan’s Past

posted by Celia Brogan

Students at times have trouble identifying with historical events, especially when those events occurred to a cultural group other than the one(s) with which they are familiar. One way to assist students to identify and begin to understand the emotional and social costs of past injustices is historical fiction.

There is a specific type of historical fiction that I have always found particularly engaging: that which tells of a protagonist who finds herself pulled back through time and experiences a series of historical events firsthand.  There are a handful of great examples of this motif in YA literature: Fog Magic by Julia Sauer, Handful of Time by Kit Pearson, and The Grave by James Heneghan, to name just a few.
Today’s BC lit post adds Hannah and the Spindle Whorl and Hannah and the Salish Sea by Carol Ann Shaw to that list.

In the first book Hannah lives in present-day Cowichan Bay. On her walk through a patch of forest one day she discovers an old Salish spindle whorl and it transports her back in time where she meets Yisella, a Salish girl her own age.  They become friends and it is through this friendship that Hannah witnesses a small portion of the cultural pillaging that occurred when white Europeans started spreading out along South Coastal BC.

It looks as though a third book about Hannah is coming out this fall. This is a great trilogy to incorporate into a unit learning about the history of the peoples and cultures of South Coastal BC.

Place-Making with Poetry

Posted by Celia Brogan

We are halfway through Poetry Month! In a change from last year, this April we are focusing on specifically BC literatures in support of the ABPBC’s Read Local BC campaign but luckily, when we look around poetry features prominently in the local cannon.

Today I would like to continue a thread started yesterday and share another iten created by the intersection of Local + Maps + Story.

A Verse Map of Vancouver  ed. George McWhirter (photographs by Derek Von Essen) is a beautiful volume of poetry and photographs whose aim is to celebrate and “represent the city’s places and principal features in poetry.” (from the introduction) It’s not meant to be exhaustive, but a snapshot of the city (so to speak: the actual photographs often are more portrait-like than snapshot.)

I love the idea of a verse map. Should you be inspired by this idea, the breadth of topography might vary: from covering a region or your entire town, to remaining on within the bounds of the school property.

Another book that could fall within the Local + Maps + Story thread, and is simultaneously smaller and larger in scope, is Gulf Islands Alphabet by Bronwyn Preece (Illustrated by Alex Walton). This picture book is a poetic description of the Gulf Islands and the Salish Sea, featuring an alphabetic sequence of alliterative passages accompanied by rich watercolour illustrations. It differs from A Verse Map of Vancouver in that it covers a wider area, but does so with a single text. It’s another option to inspire a way for students to engage with their geography through poetry.
(One drawback of this text for me is the minimal mention of First Nations’ current and historical use of the area as well as not enough information about marine life. These two aspects can serve as entry points for a critical reading.)

If you have a local resource of this sort for your town or area in BC, please share it in the comments!

We live among layers upon layers of story

Posted by Celia Brogan

“Anyone can lead a walk because everyone is an expert on the places they live, work, and play.”

Have you heard of Jane’s Walks? Inspired by the work of Jane Jacobs, Jane’s Walks are neighbourhood walking tours, led by a member of the community. The tour routes and content are as varied as the citizens who lead them. Consider this as a great way to get our students to embrace their presence in their community. If you don’t have the capacity to actually do the waking tours, a adaptation might include a mapped route with photo-anchor accompaniment to written or audio descriptions for a set number of points of interest. The global festival is May 1-3, but you can do Jane’s Walks any time through the year.

Another way to explore and bring forward the stories in our neighbourhoods and communities is to dig through the layers of a place. The book On Looking: 11 Walks with Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz can provide the inspiration to bring your classroom into the community. The author took the same walk around her neighbourhood 11 times with 11 different people and noticed the difference in what she noticed.  To think about why we see what we see, and how we see it can be a fascinating entrance into a celebration of our place.

Why write about this place?

Posted by Celia Brogan

This evening I went to my second #ReadLocalBC event, called “An Evolving City: Writing Vancouver’s Past, Present & Future,” featuring George Bowering and Wayde Compton.

During the question period after the readings the authors were asked if writing about Vancouver was an obvious choice of setting for them in their writing, or, why did they choose to set their work in Vancouver. Their answers discussed how the choice to set writing, specifically fiction, here provides the power to address some very real and serious topics in a way that can be more powerful than setting their work elsewhere. They pointed out that readers can often feel saturated with concerns and an author’s voice can get lost in the chorus of ‘realistic writing.’ Setting fiction in our local environment allows an writer to propose a ‘what if’ scenario in a way that opens a space for readers to reflect on our current society. Readers can wonder what realities might come to pass given an event as plausible as a toxic fuel spill in Burrard Inlet.

Imagine the stories our students might write given this environmental event in Vancouver as a starting point. What might they imagine as futures for your community? Bowering and Compton suggest that by writing our stories, current and possible, we open the door for ourselves and our readers to see positive futures and to act to realize them.

 

*Check out the list of free #ReadLocalBC events at http://books.bc.ca/read-local-bc/. There may be one or two in your community.

Getting to know BC through Farm and Food Lit

posted by Celia Brogan

I realized a few years ago that I like what I have decided to call “Farm Literature.” There may be an industry name for this but I’m happy with mine. Farm Lit is, for me, a book about someone’s experience living on a farm–hobby or sustenance–or other intimate experience with the food we eat. That’s not a exhaustively vetted definition, and has been developed as I read books I holistically add to the category.

When a local angle is added to the farm/food aspect, I feel even more fulfilled.  Here are three titles from my bookshelf you may want to check out:

Home: tales of a heritage farm  by Anny Scoones is a collection of stories about the ten years she spent living on and restoring Glamorgan Farm.  The farm is on the Saanich Peninsula, on the South end of Vancouver Island and was threatened by development when Anny bought it.  She restored it and made a point of raising heritage breeds and growing heirloom vegetables, opening the workings of the farm to the community.

Wise Acres: Free-Range Reflections on the Rural Route  by Michael Kluckner. Kluckner, a notable watercolourist and Vancouver historian, moved with his wife from a house in Vancouver to a hobby farm in the Fraser Valley. The book is a darkly funny chronicle of the couple’s experience adjusting to farm life, including animal husbandry.

The third title I’ll share today is a bit different. You may have heard of The 100-Mile Diet: a year of local eating  by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon. The authors generated a huge amount of press when they spent a year eating only food that was grown or produced within 100 miles of their homes in Vancouver. Whereas the first two titles are a microcosm of BC food-life, sharing the day-to-day at the production end of the chain, The 100-Mile Diet shows us a broad view of the myriad aspects of the food industry in BC (and not even all of BC–how might this story differ if it was based in Smithers, or Kelowna, or Nelson?) from the consumer’s end.

Looking at local sources of food can be an inspiring way to get to know the land where we live. The people who feed us from our land are often unknown to us in the lower mainland. It’s not as anonymous in smaller communities, but time spent with our students on this topic can’t help but enrich their literacies of place.

 

Read Local BC

Happy April!

Last year we celebrated Poetry Month by posting every school day in April. This year we’re still featuring poetry in our schools, but here at bctela.ca we are going to focus on a different series.

The Association of Book Publishers of BC (@abpbc) has launched a fabulous celebration of local publishing and has announced their Read Local BC campaign for April 2015.

Check out their website for literary events in your community (or one nearby).

We will celebrate in our own way throughout April by posting about local authors, titles, and series we like to use with our students. Do you have a favourite BC author or text you use in your practice? Share it with us in the comments.

Preparing for the #bctelabook club chat

This Sunday brings our first book club twitter chat about a work of fiction. Chatting about Medicine Walk will be a different experience from our previous chats about professional texts. As you finish the novel and prepare your thoughts for sharing, consider these prompts and provocations:

  • How might stories have the power to heal, in both their telling and hearing?
  • What is the relationship between land and place, and memory?
  • Do the stories about our past need to come from our blood-relations?
  • For whom is the “medicine walk,” really? Are there more multiple walks being taken?
  • What other texts would you group with Medicine Walk?
  • …and other thoughts or questions you have are most welcome

We are looking forward to meeting you online, or in person for those who will get together in preparation for the twitter chat.
Happy Reading!

In-person gathering: 9:30-11am, March 8th, Pleasant Beans coffee house, 39 Kingsway, Vancouver (attached to the Mount Pleasant Community Centre). Or there might be one in your community: ask around!
Twitter chat: 11am-12noon, March 8th, online, hashtag #bctelabook.

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