Tag Archives: Spring 2009

Beyond the Book Club: Info-circles in Ancient Roman Studies by Jane MacMillan & Christy Rollo

Jane MacMillan is a lover of all things literacy and enjoys sharing her passion for literature both with her students at school and at home with her three children.

Christy Rollo knew she wanted to be a teacher from the moment she taught her brother how to tie his shoe laces. She is now having the ultimate teaching experience with her two young daughters.

In September of 2006, Christy, a Grade 6/7 teacher, approached Jane, a teacher-librarian with a question: How could Christy engage all the diverse learners in her class, including reluctant learners and English language learners? Jane was new to the school, and Christy had been teaching Gr. 6/7 for a number of years at the school. We were looking to collaborate with the library as a venue. Further, Christy wanted to help all of her learners connect with Social Studies in a meaningful way, even though it included reading a variety of texts, note-making, critical thinking and discussion, all areas in which reluctant and ESL learners may struggle due to gaps in skills and background knowledge. Looking to develop authentic conversation and create a greater depth in student engagement as part of a unit on Ancient Rome, we decided to try something new; that is, bring information books to the traditional “book club.” Thus, “info-circles” was born, proving to be not only a popular choice among our students, but an incredibly rewarding teaching experience for us, as well. Continue reading

Teacher in Play: The Invitation of Performative Inquiry by Lynn Fels

Lynn Fels is Assistant Professor at SFU. Her research interests are performance and technology, performative inquiry, and teacher education. She and co-author George Belliveau recently published Exploring Curriculum: Performative Inquiry, Role Drama, and Learning.

The story that follows was told to me by a colleague of a grade twelve English teacher who had taken his students outside into the playground of the elementary school next door. “Take time to explore the playground,” he tells them, “the swings, the climbing bars, the slide.” It was, as he tells my friend later, a curious sight, witnessing his grade twelve students, on the cusp of adulthood, playing, shouting, laughing, calling to each other, as they scrambled up ladders, swung into the blue sky, and slid down the slide. “Back to the classroom,” he yells, as the elementary school recess bell rings, and the playground is swarmed by wide-eyed children, who stutter to a stop at the sight of high school students occupying their playground. Continue reading

Student Cover Art: Darkness by Joanne Panas

Joanne Panas is a coeditor of English Practice. She teaches English part-time at McRoberts Secondary in Richmond, and is pursuing writing, her other passion, on her so-called days off.” 

The cover art for this issue is a piece by one of my English 11 students, Rachel Yang. It was part of a unit we did this year around the essential question “How can we make sense of the darkness in humanity?” The specific task for which Rachel did this piece was called “3-Word Thinking.” In this task, students chose three words from the following list to define, explain, and explore in terms of its uses, associations, and connotations: violence, conflict, pain, darkness or destruction. For one of the words, they did a mind map; for another word, they wrote a descriptive piece; and for the third word, they created a visual with a written explanation. Earlier in the unit, students had been introduced to an online scrapbooking site (scrapblog.com) and many of them, including Rachel, took advantage of this new skill for the visual part of this assignment. Continue reading

Editorial: There Will Be Time by Matt Rosati

Matt Rosati has been teaching English and Social Studies for 14 years and is an English department head in SD42, Maple Ridge.This is his first journal as a new co-editor.

I finally got started. My wife has been asking me to prepare the baby’s room for some time. Pulling down wallpaper, drywall repair, sanding, painting, pulling up carpet, installing a new floor-these are a few of my least favorite things. Last week, it was clear that I had run out of excuses and “important things I had to do” when she looked at me and said, “We have to get this done, he’s coming.” Her stomach attested to her earnest tone. Ready or not, baby number one was on the way. So Saturday I pulled down wallpaper, repaired drywall, sanded, and painted. My mind drifts when I do this type of work and I thought about what in the world I was going to do with a baby boy. Would anything I do be enough? What if I forget something important that I have to teach him? How can I remember not to forget? Then I stared thinking about the missing parts of my own education and lamented that though my new son will begin a season of learning new things daily, my time for learning had passed. I had to pull myself back to the present moment and realize what a silly thing I had just thought. What was I talking about? I can count on two hands all the new things I have learned just since the New Year. Continue reading