Feb ’17 issue of Educational Leadership on literacy.

The February 2017 issue of Educational Leadership is a theme issue titled Literacy in Every Classroom and it is NOW available full text in our journal database. TDSB teachers may contact the Library for copies of any of the ‘locked’ (on the web page) articles such as : Why Argue? or 10 Ways to Promote a Culture of Literacy. Contact the library at (416) 395-8289 or professionallibrary@tdsb.on.ca

Check it out! Rowan

February 17, 2017 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Finding Your Inner Superhero: OLA jot notes

Fourth in a series by Natalie C., one of our fabulous reference librarians, who was lucky to attend 3 days at the OLA Super conference: 

In Bring Your Own Cape: Using Novels and Non-Fiction Narratives to Further Themes of Diversity, Equity and Social Justice, presenter and author Natasha Deen argued that by teaching kids the importance of reading and writing we could also teach them to be superheroes.

For Deen, being a superhero is not the same as just being powerful. Referencing the deaths experienced by Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne before they became Batman & Spider-Man, Deen asserted: “Finding the superhero within is not just about being awesome. It’s taking power from the terrible. The things that happen in your life that are terrible, they are there to help you rise.”

Deen believes that by sharing diverse stories, kids can learn to recognize the value in their differences — what the world often uses to put them down — and access their power.

By encouraging students to write, Deen says that we’re allowing students to “peek behind the curtain.” By writing, students can learn not only about how narratives in the stories they read are purposefully shaped and structured to convey specific messages, but how these messages can in turn shape and structure the story of their own lives. 

Through books with themes of diversity, equity and social justice, Deen believes that educators can teach students that they can all make a difference: “The world’s telling you to look a certain way to be powerful and yet the most powerful thing in the world is kindness. Why are we letting people tell us that only big things count? Little things matter. All of us change the world.”

So how can you help students find their inner superhero?Deen has compiled a list of texts that promote diversity, equity and social justice. Additionally, she has created several question sheets to help educators use some of these texts to inspire discussion.


February 16, 2017 at 1:00 pm Leave a comment

EduGains Literacy: OSSLT supports

OSSLT Supports – Quick Reference for Leaders. This resource provides a quick reference for district school board and school leaders who are supporting educators and students in preparing for the 2017 Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) on March 30 . The content is adapted from the Immediate Actions sections of the 2016 Student Achievement Literacy Planning Resource: Grades 7-12 released in September 2016.

The resource is adapted from the “Immediate Actions” sections of the 2016 Student Achievement Literacy Planning Resource: Grades 7-12 released to district school boards in September 2016. Click on < Resource Collection > Resources by Topic  > Improvement Planning > in the left menu under the System Leader tab on Literacy K-12.

February 16, 2017 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Library as the hub of school improvement: OLA jot notes


Third in a series by Natalie C, one of our fabulous reference librarians who attended this year’s OLA Super conference.

Teacher-Librarians were out in full force at Super Conference, with many presenting on the new and innovative projects they were undertaking in their Library Learning Commons and Makerspaces.

One such presentation was offered by a Principal/Teacher-Librarian (TL) team from the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board. Working at a small school in a small community,  school administrator Alison Osborne and TL Lea French discussed how they took advantage of all of their community’s resources — the public library, engaged parents, and local artists — to turn their library into the thriving hub of their school’s community.

What they did wasn’t necessarily complicated, but a lot of small things added up to make a sizable difference for their students:


  • Refreshing their Environment: In addition to purchasing new comfortable, versatile furniture, Alison & Lea enlisted the help of a local artist to create a collaborative art installation for the library with the students at their school.
  • Rebranding: Rather than calling the school library a makerspace or library learning commons — terms that they thought might not resonate with their students — they opted to name the space The Hub, because that’s what they wanted it to be: the centre of their students’ learning
  • Active Learning: Alison & Lea developed simple activities to help students feel involved in the space, including a Blackout Poetry exercise, Tearable Puns, and a bookmark design contest
  • Know Your Stats: Alison & Lea knew that intermediate students were the lowest users of the library so they encouraged teachers to issue Research Passes to these students that they could use to come down to the library during class-time for help with researching an assignment
  • Parents as Partners: Relying heavily on the assistance of parents in their community during their school library’s revitalization, Alison & Lea applied for a Parents Reaching Out grant to provide their parents with compensation for their time
  • Hitting the Books: To help their students cultivate a love of reading, Alison & Lea applied to First Book Canada, which provides books to students in impoverished communities. They also organized an Earth Day Book Swap where students could bring in books they’d already read to trade with their peers.
  • Creating a Safe Space: To provide alternative spaces for students, Lea offers Mindful Mornings in the library, opening The Hub early so students looking for a quiet space can take some time to themselves
  • Developing a Lifelong Love of Libraries: To foster a love of libraries in all their forms, Alison & Lea partnered with their small public library to offer students regular library field trips

In addition to their dedication to transforming their school library space through these many projects, what I found most inspiring about Alison & Lea was their collaborative and trusting relationship. Alison evidently was passionate about her school’s library, but she said that she might not have necessarily seen it as a priority if Lea hadn’t knocked on her door and said: “Hey, I’m a Teacher-Librarian and I don’t know why I’m teaching grade 5.”

Because of Lea’s advocacy and the pair’s dedication to making the school library a hub for literacy and learning, Lea’s full-time space is now the library. The pair made a commitment to each other to stay at their school for 3 years and see their project through. Just a year after starting their revitalization, their school has already seen increases in its academic and attitude data. It is a motivating story of what Principals and Teacher-Librarians can accomplish together.

I’m sure that there are many of these examples from TDSB Teacher-Librarians as well. If you have a great school library revitalization story, start thinking about your OLA Super Conference proposal for next year!



February 15, 2017 at 1:00 pm Leave a comment

Freebies: DK Find Out and Storyline Online

Here are a couple of fabulous freebies. You may may want to check ’em out and add them to your go-to lists – especially for parents.

DK Find Out! Personal comment >visually  attractive and friendly, includes videos, quizzes  and fun facts on a variety of broad subject categories.  Other resources are recommended to flesh out the information.

Storyline online A selection of picture books read by Hollywood personalities (again a good recommendation for parents), for example:

  • Harry the Dirty Dog is read by Betty White
  • Brave Irene is read by Al Gore

Remember that the TDSB Virtual Library is stuffed full of reading and  resources for K-12 students. Start with Quick Finds and discover ebooks, encyclopedias and databases, streamed videos. Your TL can provide password information to the subscription resources.

February 15, 2017 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Student voice in the library: OLA Super conference jot notes

Second in a series by Natalie C., one of our fabulous reference librarians who attended the annual conference: 


From Feb. 1st to 3rd, thousands of librarians descended on the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for the 2017 Ontario Library Association Superconference

One of the most inspirational sessions at the conference was offered by this year’s Ontario School Library Association’s Spotlight Speaker, Shannon McClintock Miller. Shannon was a Teacher-Librarian with the Van Meter Community School District in Iowa. Now she speaks all over the world about education, librarianship, technology and giving students a voice.

Let Us Make a Difference: The central tenet of Shannon’s presentation is that when we’re given the opportunity to follow our passions and pursue something that we see as a priority, we feel empowered. Shannon asks educators to empower their students by asking them a simple question: What is important to you? Shannon told tons of great stories about the impact of empowering students to choose what they want to learn.

Let Us Be Connected: As a teacher librarian in Van Meter, Shannon helped students pursue their passions by using technology to connect them with experts, authors, and other classrooms all over the world.

Some ways she connected:

  • She partnered with a teacher in Illinois and, using Skype, they would team teach almost every day. They collaborated on a blog: Two Libraries One Voice.
  • After a student indicated his interest in the videogame Halo, she tweeted to Halo’s creator and coordinated a joint Halo game in the library
  • She connected 2 Kindergarten classrooms at different schools using Skype
  • To reach out to author Mercer Mayer, she motivated students to create a book of artwork highlighting why they loved his work, sent it to his publicist, and he eventually Skyped with over 250 students at the school

Let Us Create: Shannon also empowered students by allowing them to pursue their passions.  After one student indicated his love of I Spy books, Shannon reached out to the books’ author. She said that she would meet with Van Meter students — but only if they created an I Spy book of their own. So they did!

Let Us Have Experiences: Shannon used technology to allow her students in Van Meter to have experiences they may not have had otherwise.

  • They connected with over 26 other schools for World Read Aloud Day
  • To celebrate author Mo Willems, they read the book Happy Pig Day and Shannon brought in a pig. They shared their experience with students from another classroom in Illinois who might not otherwise have had the opportunity to see a real live pig.

Shannon closed her presentation with this message: “Our children’s voices have the power to make a difference. They have the power to change education. They have the power to change the world. You have the power to be the change.”

Shannon is now involved with the Future Ready Librarians project, an initiative designed to empower Teacher-Librarians to “lead, teach and support the Future Ready goals of their school.” Shannon’s entire presentation is available at this linkYou can also learn more about Shannon’s work on her blog The Library Voice and you can follow her on Twitter @shannonmmiller.



February 14, 2017 at 1:00 pm Leave a comment

Deeper Learning

From AIR‘s spotlight on deeper learning:

“The combination of (1) a deeper understanding of core academic content, (2) the ability to apply that understanding to novel problems and situations, and (3) the development of a range of competencies, including people skills and self control, is called deeper learning. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation—a leader in the national initiative to promote deeper learning in schools—has defined deeper learning as “a set of competencies students must master in order to develop a keen understanding of academic content and apply their knowledge to problems in the classroom and on the job.”

Does Deeper Learning Improve Student Outcomes? [pdf] states “AIR’s Study of Deeper Learning: Opportunities and Outcomes found that students who attended high schools that explicitly focused on deeper learning (“network schools”) experienced better outcomes when measured against students in comparison schools.”

Check it out! Rowan

February 14, 2017 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

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