Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
PRINCE GEORGE - Education Minister Shirley Bond celebrated National School Library Day Oct. 27 by taking part in the Drop Everything and Read challenge, issued by the B.C. Teacher-Librarians' Association.
"Our family loves to read and has always made it a priority. I am happy to 'drop everything and read' to celebrate national school library day," said Bond. "I have also invited my colleagues around the province to do the same thing."
B.C.'s teacher-librarians challenged everyone in the province to Drop Everything and Read for 20 minutes at 11 a.m. today. The event began last year in Surrey but this year the B.C. Teacher-Librarians' Association took it provincewide and they hope that it will grow to become a national event.
"It's about encouraging young people to read and value literacy," said Karen Lindsay, vice-president of the B.C. Teacher-Librarians' Association. "Studies clearly show that daily silent reading improves vocabulary, spelling, comprehension and much more."
"It is also important to say thank you to teacher-librarians and other educators who work so hard to ensure our students develop a love of reading and excellent literacy skills," said Bond.
Since 2001, government has invested more than $145 million in new literacy initiatives, including pre-literacy and early learning programs, such as $12 million to operate the kindergarten readiness program Ready, Set, Learn and $2.7 million for the ActNow Literacy Education Activity and Play (LEAP BC) program that encourages literacy, physical activity and healthy eating in preschool-aged children.
20-minute reading session stresses importance of literacy
Janet Steffenhagen, Vancouver Sun
Monday, October 27, 2008
Drop everything and read.
That's what librarians are asking British Columbians to do today at 11 a.m. to mark National School Library Day and deliver a strong signal to children about the importance of literacy.
"The message it sends could be so powerful," said Karen Lindsay, librarian at Reynolds secondary school in Victoria and chief organizer of the Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) event. "It costs nothing [and] it has that Zen-like simplicity."
The DEAR project began as an experiment last year in Surrey, but this year it's being promoted provincewide and Lindsay is determined to make it a national event. She hopes answering machines everywhere will advise callers to ring back after the 20-minute reading time has lapsed -- unless it's an emergency.
The event also calls attention to the state of school libraries, described several years ago as being on life-support as scarce resources were stretched in different directions and reduced hours for teacher-librarians forced some library closures during the school day.
Whether things have improved since then is a matter of opinion.
Heather Daly, president of the B.C. Teacher-Librarians' Association, said the situation is better than it was five years ago -- after the Liberals changed the teachers' contract and eliminated guaranteed staffing levels for libraries.
Staffing became a school board responsibility and the number of teacher-librarians fell as boards spent scarce dollars elsewhere. "Those were dark times," Daly said. "From that position, we've grown back and we're finally to a position where it feels healthy again.
"Provincially, it feels like things are more positive," she said, crediting the government's decision to give responsibility for all libraries to Education Minister Shirley Bond.
That linked school libraries with public, post-secondary and specialty libraries and allowed them to share resources.
Still, she said there are variations in schools around the province.
Moira Ekdahl, library consultant for Vancouver schools, said staffing in her district hasn't improved dramatically and there are still struggles to keep resources current but there have been some remarkable innovations.
Livingston elementary is leading the way with interactive white boards called Smart Boards, and John Oliver secondary has one of the most vibrant reading communities in the province.
"They have a rock-solid silent reading program," Ekdahl said. "Even the secretaries drop their tools to read every single day."
Kerrisdale elementary also has a well-equipped library, Ekdahl said. Teacher-librarian Michele Farquharson, who won an award of merit from her association this month, said staffing levels are always a challenge.
"It's not a rosy [situation] because it's not a well-understood position," said Farquharson, who has a .8 teacher-librarian position in a school with more than 600 students.
online: Read more education news at vancouversun.com/reportcard
Sunday, October 26, 2008
On Oct. 27, the people of B.C. are called to do one simple thing: "Drop everything and read."
This task seems so easy, so commonplace, yet it is surprising how few of us find time to do it on a regular basis. National School Library Day is a time to examine how the demands of today's competitive and technological society have taken priority over literacy and the library.
However, this day is also a time to appreciate what makes reading and libraries important, what makes them triumphant still.
Every time I enter a library, I am taken back to the first one I experienced, at St. Joseph's Elementary School. The people, and books, I was introduced to there have had a lasting impact on how I view reading, writing and learning about life.
Dreams and ideas grow best in libraries; at least mine did, as I developed my love of literature, especially through the St. Joseph's writing club. Even now, as a Grade 12 student at St. Andrew's High School, I find myself going back through the halls of my memories and into that time and place where imagination came alive.
Raya MacKenzie, Saanich
• DEAR has been added as an event on the Canadian Library Month website
• Electronic copy of DEAR poster provided to Public Library Services Branch; sent by them to public libraries for posting
• The BC Library Trustees Association has put DEAR in their latest Bulletin. More scrolling required.
• DEAR information & poster added to SD61 and SD43 website; endorsed by Victoria and VSB trustees.
• Media: Interviews with Victoria Times Colonist, Vancouver Sun, Comox Valley Record
• Created this Blog and DEAR Facebook event
• Janet Steffenhagen really heats things up with this posting in her blog, Report Card.
• A second post in the Report Card keeps readers up to date.
• Janet Steffenhagen's writes an article that is published on National School Library Day.
When I got home from the opening of the BCTLA Fall Conference last Thursday evening, I found this in my in box! (I inserted the photo, not Mr. Campbell.)
Thank you for sending me the news release highlighting the Drop Everything and Read initiative.
I would like to commend the BC Teacher-Librarians’ Association for raising the profile of literacy initiatives. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of being able to read, write and understand numbers, as they are the basic skills everyone needs to be functioning and contributing citizens. The more we as a community can do to help people who slipped through the cracks, and to ensure all students get the time and attention they need to be prolific with language and computation skills, the better off we will all be as a society.
Moving literacy forward is key to a better future for all of us and I wish the Drop Everything and Read initiative every success.
Vancouver Sun: 2008 October 26
The countdown has begun towards 11 a.m. Monday when we're all poised to Drop Everything and Read (DEAR). I posted a couple of days ago about this event and noted the organizer's dismay with a lack of response from Premier Gordon Campbell and Education Minister Shirley Bond - both big literacy boosters.
Well, Victoria school librarian Karen Lindsay happily advised me today that both are now on board. Shortly after my post appeared, Campbell sent her an email commending the B.C. Teacher-Librarians' Association for organizing the event.
"The more we as a community can do to help people who slipped through the cracks, and to ensure all students get the time and attention they need to be prolific with language and computation skills, the better off we will all be as a society," the premier wrote.
"Moving literacy forward is key to a better future for all of us and I wish the Drop Everything and Read initiative every success."
She also got a call from Bond's office, advising that a news release endorsing the event will soon be released.
"The Bond press release comes too late to create more participants for this year, but it is fabulous news nonetheless," Lindsay told me. "It raises awareness and creates a fast lane for next year's campaign . . ."
No surprise, I'll be reading the Vancouver Sun tomorrow morning. There you will find more about DEAR and school libraries.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Vancouver Sun: 2008 October 22
School librarians have a big event planned for Monday to celebrate National School Library Day. It's called Drop Everything and Read and librarians hope everyone in this province -- not just school kids -- will do exactly that.
The event got started last year in Surrey but this year, the B.C. Teacher Librarians' Association is taking it province-wide and organizer Karen Lindsay hopes it will soon become a national affair. She envisions 20 minutes of silence province-wide as everyone drops the tools of their trade and picks up a book.
"This is not just about an event," she explained "It’s about encouraging young people to read and value literacy.”
"The more that adults model reading, the more kids get it.”
In planning the event, Lindsay had hoped the legislature would be sitting and at 11 a.m., the Speaker would instruct MLAs to grab a book. It would have been a PR sensation. That was not to be, but Lindsay said she is pleased that former finance minister Carole Taylor has offered her support for the initiative.
What about Premier Gordon Campbell and Education Minister Shirley Bond, both of whom are great literacy advocates? (Bond is the minister responsible for the Liberal push to make B.C. the most literate jurisdiction in North America by 2015.)
Lindsay doesn't know what they will be doing at 11 a.m. Monday because neither has responded to her email invitations to participate. She's disappointed, particularly with the premier, saying: "I know he supports literacy. Where is he?"
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
librarian Karen Lindsay prepare for the DEAR Challenge.
Debra Brash, Times Colonist
Victoria Times Colonist: 2008 October 20
Karen Lindsay is an easy person to read. She loves books, and she loves seeing people use them.
Lindsay, a teacher-librarian at Reynolds Secondary School and vice-president of the B.C. Teacher-Librarians' Association, is leading local efforts in a provincewide push to establish a special day when literacy and reading take centre stage.
The day's big event is being called the DEAR Challenge, short for Drop Everything and Read. Lindsay and her colleagues around B.C. are challenging everyone, from school communities to businesspeople to MLAs, to take 20 minutes out of their schedules on Oct. 27 and relax with some reading material. The occasion corresponds with National School Library Day.
The DEAR project, based on an idea from a teacher-librarian in Surrey, was started last year on a trial basis and was popular with students, Lindsay said.
"This year, we've worked on it a whole lot harder, and it's starting to develop a life of its own. There's a blog on it and there's a Facebook page on it, and there are lots of members on both.
"The big deal for me is the idea of taking it into the public. The government has said that it wants to make B.C. the most literate jurisdiction in Canada, and I just think this is a simple little idea that models something for kids. I get a feeling of purpose and peace when I think about it."
Schools throughout the Greater Victoria school district will be taking part, Lindsay said, and she would like to see things extend as far as possible into the wider community.
"I have a fantasy in my mind where you might call your real-estate office and there's just a message saying 'We've dropped everything and we're reading right now, if it's an emergency call this cell phone number'."
Beyond that, Lindsay envisions other provinces joining in, and B.C. emerging as the champion in a national DEAR event.
Most schools will have their Oct. 27 reading session at 11 a.m.
Reynolds will be a major participant, of course. Lindsay said the school already does something similar with daily "silent reading" times.
"The staff has become creative around the silent reading. Some of them, instead of having silent reading, might have kids bring in poetry or short stories that they love. The teacher might read to them or they might read to the class, and some people have even talked about getting an author in."
Lindsay said studies clearly show that daily silent reading improves vocabulary, spelling, comprehension and much more. Students thrive on having the chance to sit down and read "away from the threat of tests and questions," she said.
Asked if she had any recent favourites on her own bookshelf, Lindsay was quick to answer The Secret Life of Bees, a novel by Sue Monk Kidd set in the civil-rights era in the United States. A movie based on the book was released last week.
"I read it this summer, and it was so important to me that I intend to reread it once a year until I'm tired of it," Lindsay said.
On Facebook: www.new.facebook.com/event.php?eid=38741982688
Blog address: bctladear.blogspot.com/