Friday, April 10, 2009
Well I am avoiding organizing my income tax etc. so that I thought I might tackle my blog. I just finished making Nanaimo Bar Easter eggs. This is my annual Easter tradition. When I was a child I once had this delicious square and it was years before I was able to taste one again and discovered that it was a Nanaimo Bar. My second trip out west friends and I went to Nanaimo but only found the bars that had separate entrances for ladies. Moving here, I discovered Susan Mendelson's recipe and have been using it ever since and somewhere along the way I bought her cookbook for kids and learned to make the infamous eggs. It's not hard but requires patiences and time as you do it in stages. But isn't that the way with many worthwhile projects?
Let's see I am going to focus on high school today. To get myself in the mode for the high school literacy meeting this week I started reading Readicide by Kelly Gallagher. I became a fan of Kelly Gallagher's several years ago but I finally went to a session with him at NCTE this year and was very impressed. Initally this book may seem a bit American as he talks about the effects of high stakes testing, but I still think the book is worth reading for Canadian teachers. I go into lots of elementary classes where students are reading happily and of course, as many have noted, this happens often less and less as you go up in grade level. Kelly defines Readicide as "the systematic killing of the love of reading,often exacerbated by the inane, mind numbing practices found in schools".
You may find this extreme but it proves interesting reading. He also gives some great ideas for improving the situation. One solution is giving his students access to articles on contemporary issues. On his website he gives some examples of this. And I think you can still read the book online if you so desire!
It was a fun meeting with speakers Brooke and Greg from Rockridge Secondary in West Van who demonstrated clearly formative assessment as used in socials, English, and science classrooms with no marks until the end of term. People at the meeting were fascinated and had many questions and wanted to find out more.
Last year we decided that it might be better having high school meetings separate from our elementary later literacy project school meetings. Then we decided to invite representatives from all our high schools to attend. At first it seemed a bit difficult to get people there but 14 of our 17 schools now are always there and this session certainly proved overwhelmingly popular. We have received very positive feedback from all our meetings. I hope that they can continue next year.