Thursday, August 30, 2007
University of British Columbia
Thea's Lounge, Graduate Student Society Bldg
6371 Crescent Rd
Vancouver, BC V6T, Canada
Oct 4 at 7:30 pm
Monday, August 27, 2007
Searching for journal, magazine and newspaper articles used to involve flipping through fat index books and hoping your library carried the periodical in question.
If you wanted an encyclopedia, you had to take the right volume off the shelf. If you wanted to know what a novel was about, you had to read the book, or at least the dust jacket.
Things have changed, and now it's easier for kids at local schools to search for quality online resources.
The Waterloo Region District School Board is launching its new virtual library, which offers much more information than ever before, thanks to new funding from the province.
"This year we're spending less than half on online database licencing than we did last year and we're getting 10 times the resources," said library consultant Anita Brooks Kirkland.
Although the virtual library has been online since January, with mostly secondary students using it, significant improvements have been made over the summer and once school starts, there will be a new push to get elementary students involved.
Some of the materials are geared toward young children, with lots of pictures and easy-to-read information. For older students, there are resources as sophisticated as peer-reviewed academic journals.
Because of the variety, all students can access useful information whether they're reading significantly ahead or behind their grade level, said MacGregor Public School teacher Mary Sue Meredith, who has used the virtual library with her Grade 8 students.
Importantly, the information is all good quality, unlike much of what turns up by Googling, said Brooks Kirkland.
Also, it's "one-stop shopping" for elementary students, high school students and teachers looking for professional resources, she said.
Students and teachers will be able to access the virtual library at school or from home using a password they'll learn at school.
The Waterloo Catholic District School Board is putting together a similar virtual library accessible at school or home with a password. Although staff are still working on a new interface, it should be ready by the beginning of the school year, said resource librarian Elaine Zink.
Some of the electronic journals and other resources are already available through the board's website, but it hasn't all been in one place, said Zink.
There are also now more online resources available to the general public. The Ontario government has licensed a number of electronic databases for anyone's use.
For more information, go to any public library or visit www.knowledgeontario.ca.
Friday, August 24, 2007
- Let your children see you read, and set aside time each day for family reading.
- Get your children excited about reading by taking turns reading pages or acting out the characters.
- Ask your children to read to you while you prepare a meal.
- Talk to your children about what they read. Ask them questions that require them to read between the lines and think about what they’ve just read for better comprehension.
- Introduce your children to a variety of genres.
- Help your children get a library card and take weekly trips to the library.
Intermediate/Middle School Students
- Establish a daily homework routine. Set up an area away from distractions such as the television and the Internet, with adequate supplies and lighting.
- When it is time for your children to do homework, it will reinforce strong study habits to do yours: balance your chequebook, pay your bills, or immerse yourself in a book. Help your children identify difficult and easy homework tasks and get them to tackle the difficult items first.
- Be available to answer questions and offer assistance, but never do a child's homework for them.
- Ask your children questions and have them explain what they have just read.
- Encourage your children to write stories and poetry.
- Continue with the established homework routine. Make adjustments as needed, such as after school or weekend time set aside for working on big projects, especially group work.
- Encourage your teenagers to explore magazines or appropriate websites on subjects that interest them to keep them interested in reading. Most local libraries carry selections of magazines on science, fitness, mechanics, or politics.
- Teenagers should be encouraged to take 20 minutes each night to read over and review their notes for that day or re-write them using colours to highlight important information, in order to retain information learnt longer.
- Keep an assignment calendar on the fridge for quick reference of due dates, exams and how they fit in with other activities.
- Have your children take a break every 10 minutes to help alleviate eye, neck and brain fatigue while studying. This will help them be more productive and retain more of what they read.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
The Internet has made information easily available in quantities never imagined before in the history of humankind.
Anyone with access to a computer can read the most recent Supreme Court decision, see videos or live coverage of events halfway around the world, communicate instantaneously, track down obscure facts, and retrieve information about people, places and things in the blink of an eye.
The problem is that some of the "information" on the Internet is not exactly 100-per-cent reliable. Some of it is lies, some is nonsense.
Montrealers heard this cautionary note loud and clear last week with the news that a Wikipedia entry about Frank Zampino, chairman of the Montreal executive committee, had been tampered with by an unknown writer. Zampino rightly characterized as defamatory the falsehoods the anonymous writer had inserted into his biographic entry. The site asserted, briefly, that he is a Nazi and a member of an anti-Semitic group.
The attack on Zampino's good name was unusually crude for Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia that virtually everyone can have a hand at editing. But a new online tool that can trace Internet Protocol numbers and so identify the computer from which a change is made, has now brought us still more information, of undisputed accuracy and considerable interest: The muddying of Zampino's biographical sketch was done from a conference room at city hall.
It turns out entries on people in public life are often made by ... people in public life.
WikiScanner, as the tool is called, tracked various changes in Wikipedia entries to machines in the offices of the CIA, the Vatican, the United States Democratic Party and Diebold, a voting-machine supplier in the U.S., according to a number of published reports.
A computer linked to a CIA address added "Wahhhhhh" to an entry about Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to Newsday.com. The CIA was reported to have said it would not confirm its computers were used in any additions.
Here in Canada, the Globe and Mail reported more than 11,000 edits of Wikipedia entries were made from computers within federal government offices. Why do public officials have so much time on their hands? You get the impression of bureaucrats and politicians spending all day burnishing their own entries and besmirching those of their rivals.
Now that word about the power of WikiScanner is spreading, we can hope there will be a powerful deterrent effect on anyone thinking of meddling with entries.
But more likely, we're afraid that those with base motives will just become more sly and devious. The struggle for accuracy and fairness continues.
The moral of the story goes far beyond city hall, or Wikipedia. People using the Internet for research purposes should view these latest incidents as a reminder the prudent course is check and double-check facts through a variety of sources.
Wikipedia, as a study by Nature magazine found, is not vastly less accurate than other encyclopedias. In its comparison, Nature found Encyclopedia Britannica had 2.92 mistakes per article, whereas Wikipedia had 3.86.
There lies the warning: Few sources of information are 100-per- cent error-free. User beware.
Friday, August 17, 2007
For Immediate Release
Aug. 17, 2007
Ministry of Education
VICTORIA – As more than half a million students get ready to return to school on Sept. 4, the following provides a snapshot of B.C.’s school system – by the numbers:
- $5.494-billion education budget – a 19.18 per cent increase from 2000-01.
- $7,932 in estimated per student funding in 2007-08 – the highest ever, a $336 increase from 2006-07 and $1,716 more since 2000-01.
- $4.345 billion in estimated operating funding in 2007-08 – a $116-million increase from 2006-07.
- Over $1-billion increase to B.C. public schools since 2000-01: $667 million in operating grants and $407 million in one-time grants.
- Funding for ESL students is increased by an estimated $3.8 million.
- Funding for Aboriginal students is increased by an estimated $3 million.
- Total funding for students with special needs is now over half a billion dollars each year.
- $106 million in literacy initiatives since 2001.
- $1.5 billion for a 15-year plan to upgrade schools to make them earthquake safe; the most comprehensive seismic plan ever undertaken by a B.C. government.
- Since 2001, government has spent over $1.1 billion on 26 new schools, 35 replacements, 144 additions and 25 renovations.
- By the end of 2008-09, the Province will have invested more than $2.8 billion in school capital and maintenance projects across British Columbia.
- 547,840 estimated FTE public school students for 2007-08 – 7,574 fewer than in 2006-07 and over 50,000 fewer than in 2000-01.
- 57,316 estimated FTE English-as-a-second-language students (07/08) – 407 fewer than in 06/07.
- 50,411 estimated FTE Aboriginal students (2007-08) – 226 fewer than in 2006-07.
- 20,663 estimated FTE students with special needs (2007-08) – 82 fewer than in 2006-07.
- 8,602 FTE adult students (2007-08) – 91 fewer than in 2006-07.
- Despite declining enrolment, 319 additional teachers hired at B.C. public schools in 2006-07.
Record Levels of Achievement
- 79 per cent of students graduated in 2005-06 – this has held steady for the fourth year in a row.
- 5,055 students received scholarships in 2005-06 for scoring high marks on Grade 12 provincial exams, which is a five per cent increase from the previous year.
- In 2006-07, 72 per cent of Grade 10 students, up 17 per cent from 2001-02, and 37 per cent of Grade 12 students, up 12 per cent from 2001-02, say they get exercise at school most or all of the time.
- Staff satisfaction with student learning is up two per cent from 2006 and five per cent from 2003.
- More students are learning how to stay healthy and Grade 7 students showed the largest increase with six per cent from last year.
Recent Key Investments in B.C. Schools
Did you know?
- All 60 school districts were visited by Education Minister Bond or Premier Campbell.
- 35 Aboriginal education enhancement agreements have been signed.
- 35 new or replacement schools have been completed or are under current construction following Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) design standards.
- Over 1,300 schools have joined the Action Schools! BC program.
- All 60 school districts are registered for the Ready, Set, Learn program, for the first time ever.
- 33,000 students are registered in distributed learning courses through schools participating in LearnNow BC.
- Special funding for students with Autism is expanded to include those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and totals $16,000 per student.
Public Affairs Bureau
Ministry of Education
250 920-9040 (cell)
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Attention News/Education Editors:
Close the Funding Gap Now! Say Elementary Teachers
TORONTO, Aug. 16 /CNW/ - Elementary students in Ontario are not receiving the quality education they deserve, the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) charged today, as they launched a major multi-media campaign throughout Ontario.
ETFO is highlighting its concerns in a province-wide advertising campaign that is focused on improving elementary education in Ontario.
The ETFO campaign, which addresses the inadequate funding that theMcGuinty government provides for elementary students, is the largest such initiative in the federation's history. It includes ads on 154 billboards and115 transit shelters, newspaper ads in Ontario's major newspapers, and extensive radio and TV advertising. The ads will "saturate the province",running as close to the provincial election date as possible, promised newly elected ETFO President David Clegg. Clegg made his comments to the more than 500 delegates attending the ETFO annual meeting, which concludes in Toronto today.
ETFO's Clegg explained that a flawed funding formula is of major concern to elementary teachers. "Ontario's education grants, which provide $711 less in funding for each Ontario elementary student than for each secondary student, do a tremendous disservice to Ontario's elementary students," he said. According to Clegg, Ontario's public education system is not providing the support and assistance that all elementary students need to succeed in an increasingly competitive international marketplace.
"As front line workers in the quest for quality education, the 70,000 ETFO members know the importance of ensuring an excellent start to every student's education," said Clegg. ETFO members teach almost one million students in 2,600 schools across Ontario, and are committed to the goal of giving all students the best education possible, Clegg added.
Despite the growing body of research pointing to the importance and benefit of investing in the early years of student learning, per pupil funding levels for Ontario elementary students historically have been significantly lower than for secondary students. This comes as a surprise to many people,said Clegg.
An ETFO survey of a representative sample of adult Ontarians found that fewer than one in three Ontarians is aware that elementary students are funded at a lower level per capita than secondary students. When told of this disparity, Ontarians do not feel the funding gap is justified.
The gap in funding has many negative implications, said Clegg:
- Larger class sizes for elementary grades, particularly in grades 4 to 8;
- Fewer specialist teachers providing programs in music, physical and health education, and art programs that provide a balanced program for elementary students and expose them to a range of experiences;
- Fewer elementary schools staffed with a teacher-librarian, a key requirement for improving student literacy (funding grants provide only one teacher-librarian for every 750 students);
- Fewer elementary schools staffed with a guidance specialist (funding grants provide only one guidance teacher for every 5,000 students);
- Virtually no design and technology and family studies programs. These programs are particularly important for students at risk of dropping out of school and who thrive with hands-on learning as opposed to more academic programs. This is key to improving high school retention and graduation rates.
The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario represents more than70,000 public elementary school teachers and education workers across Ontario and is the largest teacher federation in Canada.
For further information: Larry Skory, (416) 948-0195 (cell),
email@example.com; Johanna Brand, (416) 948-2554 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org; Mary
Morison, (416) 948-3406 (cell), email@example.com; August 13-16 - ETFO Media
Centre, Queens Quay 1, Concourse Level, The Westin Harbour Castle, Toronto,
Phone: (416) 957-7181, Fax: (416) 957-7180
Thursday, August 9, 2007
For Immediate Release
Aug. 7, 2007
Office of the Premier
VICTORIA – Premier Gordon Campbell congratulated Joan Acosta today as the recipient of British Columbia’s third annual Council of the Federation Literacy Award.
“Literacy helps open doors in people’s lives – whether they’re learning English as a second language or learning to read for the first time as an adult,” Campbell said. “Joan has made a lifelong commitment to improving literacy skills in B.C. and beyond.”
The Council of the Federation, which comprises all 13 provincial and territorial premiers, created the Council of the Federation Literacy Award on the initiative of Premier Campbell. Each province and territory chooses a recipient to receive a Council of the Federation Literacy Award medallion and a certificate signed by the premier of their province or territory.
Over the past 25 years, Acosta has helped raise awareness about issues related to adult literacy and has championed plain language to help make public information accessible to adults with low reading skills.
In 1982, Acosta became the driving force behind the Westcoast Reader, a newspaper for adult literacy and ESL learners in British Columbia. Assuming the roles of researcher, writer, editor and desktop publisher, she later helped others establish similar publications in Seattle and Nova Scotia. Today, Acosta continues to share her expertise in adult literacy through workshops, conferences and visits to classrooms throughout the Lower Mainland.
“Writing and producing materials for literacy-level learners has been my life’s work, and I am honoured to have my efforts recognized by this prestigious award,” said Acosta.
“The Province believes that lifelong learning is one of the keys to a successful life,” said Education Minister Shirley Bond. “Joan Acosta’s exemplary dedication to adult literacy is helping British Columbians reach their full potential and improve their quality of life.”
The first B.C. award was presented in 2005 to the Columbia Basin Alliance for its outstanding achievement in displaying leadership and excellence in literacy. In 2006, the B.C. award was presented to Linda Mitchell in recognition of over 25 years of leadership in literacy-related services. The award supports ReadNow BC, the new provincial literacy action plan, and recognizes the dedication of those who are helping the Province reach its goal of becoming the most educated, literate jurisdiction on the continent.
“I want to thank those who contribute to B.C.’s literacy programs for their tireless efforts to improve literacy skills throughout our province,” said Campbell. “The nominations we received this year speak to the high-quality work that volunteers and professionals are doing every day to help people improve their reading and writing skills.”
This year, 25 B.C. nominations were received for the Council of the Federation Literacy Award. The selection committee considers nominees’ history of commitment to excellence; community and peer recognition; leadership in the promotion of partnerships and public awareness; and the introduction of new ideas in promoting literacy. Nominees have to be B.C. residents for at least two years and consent to their nomination.
Since 2001, government has invested more than $106 million in new literacy funding, including $5 million for up to 80 StrongStart BC early learning centres, $12 million for public libraries, $10 million for textbooks and $9.5 million for the kindergarten readiness program Ready, Set, Learn.
For information on the Council of the Federation, visit www.councilofthefederation.ca.
Office of the Premier
For more information on government services or to subscribe to the Province’s news feeds using RSS, visit the Province’s website at www.gov.bc.ca.
Science and Technology 11 Draft IRP
Science and Technology 11 Draft IRP Response Form
(deadline for response October 1, 2007)
June 13 , 2007 to October 1, 2007
Social Justice 12
Social Justice 12 Draft IRP
Social Justice 12 Draft IRP Response Form
(deadline for response Dec. 10, 2007)
August 1, 2007 to December 10, 2007
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
A number of authors and celebrities are participating in “What Book Got You Hooked?”— a national awareness campaign from First Book, the children’s literacy organization that provides new books to children from low-income families. The 15-year-old organization has just given its 50 millionth book to children in need.
The top five titles that created readers were:(1) Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene(2) Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss(3) Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder(4) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott(5) The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss.
The organization lists the top 50 books on its Web site.
The authors singing the praises of specific books that sparked their love of books include:
Joyce Carol Oates on Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. She writes: “My grandmother gave me the Alice books in a single volume when I was nine years old. I think that I virtually memorized every page, and certainly every brilliant nonsense poem, and was inspired to attempt to write my own ‘Alice’ books as a result.”
Kate DiCamillo writes: “I remember reading Gone with the Wind when I was maybe nine years old. A lot of the story was over my head, but I was captivated in a way that I never been captivated before. The real world receded. I lived only for the book; and when it was over, when I finished, I emerged dazed and blinking, well and truly addicted to stories and to books.”
Michael Chabon fondly recalls Ray Bradbury's The Rocket Man: “I read it for the first time when I was 10 and the pleasure I took in reading was altered irrevocably. Before then I had never noticed, somehow, that stories were made not of ideas or exciting twists of plot, but of language.
There are also recollections from Eric Carle, John Lithgow, Edward Norton, Rebecca Romijn, Judy Woodruff, Rick Reilly, David Duchovny, John Krasinski and others on First Book’s Web site.
“Many of us remember the one book that we wanted to read over and over again—the book that really stirred our imaginations and left us wanting just one more chapter before bedtime,” said First Book president, Kyle Zimmer. “The fact that there are millions of children in our own country that will grow up without these kinds of memories because they have no access to books is devastating. We are delighted that so many people shared their stories in order to help us shine the spotlight on this critical issue.”
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
True confession: I was never a good booktalker.
I did it at every level. I spent a week quickly reading or re-reading 10 or so books around a theme, around a genre, the new titles. I'd talk passionately about each one. At the end of the period or block, all 25 students were motivated to read at least one of those ten titles.
So it worked? Not so much.
When the grabbing was over, the waiting lists began. Then the next class arrived. . .
Workers at the Vancouver Central Library were asked what they were reading during the strike:
Book choice: The Witch of Portobello, Paulo Coelho
Recommended for: Teens and up
Reason: "It's the latest from the author of The Alchemist, one of the most popular books of all time. It's harder than The Alchemist. It's very political."
Occupation: Children's librarian
Book choice: Timothy of the Cay, Theodore Taylor
Recommended for: Children in grades 4-8
Reason: "Taylor is an excellent writer. The book is about history and slavery and it moves back and forth in time. It is a sequel-prequel to The Cay."
Book choice: Watership Down, Richard Adams
Recommended for: Young adults and up
Reason: "I wanted to reread it and I thought this was the perfect time. I read it 15 years ago. It is a fantastic story full of heroism and tragedy."
Book choice: The Iliad, Homer
Recommended for: Anyone with patience
Reason: "I've been trying to get through it for a couple months and this will help me get through it. I've read The Odyssey several times but I've never been able to get through The Iliad. But I'm almost done. It's a great read."
Occupation: Library assistant
Book choice: Jung on Synchronicity and the Paranormal, edited by Roderick Main
Recommended for: Those reaching beyond the material world
Reason: "I've had several recent experiences of synchronicity. It's when you think about something and then it comes into your life a couple days later. Jung is trying to figure out what it's all about. It makes me want to know more."