Monday, April 16, 2018

A real beauty


The Doucette Library is coming into summer-mode – students’ final day was last Friday, exams are scheduled for the next couple of weeks and then--- ahhhhh….sigh… Catch-up time!

Catch-up for me includes reading way more picture books and today’s recommendation is a beauty.


You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Danielle Daniel is topping my highly recommended list for 2018.

It is a beautiful book gently told and simply illustrated about treating each other with kindness and respect. Everyday activities such as playing, listening, singing, comforting are all ways in which we can hold each other up – the overarching message of this book.  
Monique Gray Smith, a Canadian author of mixed-heritage Cree, Lakota and Scottish descent, has written the book in the spirit of reconciliation. In the author’s own words, she tells us,
“I wrote it to remind us of our common humanity and the importance of holding each other up with respect and dignity… At its heart, it is a book about love, building relationships and fostering empathy.”

I especially appreciate the illustrations depicting Indigenous children and adults in these common, everyday events. The illustrations are perfectly matched to this book with bright, bold colours, uncluttered spaces and stylized figures. It’s in keeping with the sparsely-worded yet affecting text.

This book should find a home in every primary grade classroom for discussions about how to treat one another, family and community.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Food for thought


A couple of recent additions to the Doucette Library’s collection made me realize the number of books that are in the library relating food to social issues and current events.  What a great way to explore contemporary issues and something we can all relate to in an interdisciplinary way, if we wanted to.

Below I’ve created a list and grouped books according to what they focus on.  Click on the titles of the books to go to the library’s catalogue to read a short summary about the exact content.
  

Global Food Issues (such as access, international trade, etc.)



 -Down to Earth: How Kids Help Feed the World by Nutritional Issues (Gr.3-6)



Growing Food (eg. where does it come from)

-Before We Eat: From Farm to Table by Pat Brisson (Gr.K-2)


-Eat Up!: an Infographic Exploration of Food by Antonia Banyard (Gr. 4-7)





History and Culture


-Fifty Foods that Changed the Course of History by Bill Price (Gr.10 and up)

-Footprints: the Story of What We Eat by Paula Ayer (Gr. 6 and up)









-What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets by Peter Menzel (Gr.8 and up)



Issues and Events we hear about in the news (organic foods, eating locally produced food)

-Eating Local by Laura Perdew (Gr.4-7)

 -Meatless?: a Fresh Look at What We Eat by Sarah Elton (Gr.3-7)

-Hijacked: How Your Brain is Fooled by Food by David Kessler (Gr.7 and up)




These books become an interesting way to discuss health issues, current events, science, history. Tie these books to some of the kits also available in the Doucette Library like the "How Much Fat?" kits that looks at the quantity of fat found in common foods, "How Much Sugar?" kit, also showing us in a very visual way how much sugar we consume. There's great potential for developing an interdisciplinary unit about a subject that is relevant and important for all of us.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Making waves about the state of our oceans


The New Ocean: the Fate of Life in a Changing Sea by Bryn Barnard is a very informative book, challenging us (the human race) to change our ways before the ocean is irrevocably damaged to the extent of possibly resulting in the next ‘great extinction’.

It’s a pretty dramatic statement and certainly captures the sense that the oceans are in trouble and so are we.

Though it looks like a picture book and has some wonderful illustrations, this is not a picture book. This slim volume focuses on six species of ocean plants and animals (jellyfish, orcas, sea turtles, tuna, corals and blue-green algae) to demonstrate how the changes happening in the oceans impact them and, consequently, how this will impact humans.

For example, jellyfish are a highly adaptive species that can thrive in the oceans’ dead zones. Dead zones are areas having little oxygen because of pollution or changes to ocean temperature, currents and wind patterns. This results in other marine species avoiding these areas, allowing jellyfish to become the dominant species which isn’t good.

Compare this with the section about tuna highlighting the dangers of overfishing and pollution. Bluefin tuna are becoming virtually extinct because of two problems: overfishing AND mercury contamination. The higher up the food chain the fish is the higher the level of mercury to be found in their flesh. Bluefin tuna has the most mercury being at the top of their food chain. Humans consume a lot of this fish and we run the risk of making ourselves sick.

This book is a terrific resource that highlights the interconnectedness between the natural world and the plant and the animals living in it, including us. While it tells of the terrible damage that is being done to this crucial resource, it does offer hope by encouraging us to be aware of the impact our choices have on the environment and becoming involved in science as a way to help find solutions.  I loved that the invention of Boyan Slat, a young Dutch engineering student, that collects plastics comprising the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is highlighted here. It’s estimated that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (twice the size of Texas) will be halved in ten years.  That’s something to give us hope.

I recommend this for all middle grade students but it will be of special interest to those teaching Alberta science for the grade 7 unit, Interactions in Ecosystems.

Monday, March 19, 2018

PBA: Pinterest board ALERT!


Just a quick reminder to everyone out there about the Doucette Library’s Pinterest page.
This page includes numerous boards that support the Alberta Education curriculum but can support any kind of teaching depending on the topic.


Here’s the link for all the boards: https://www.pinterest.ca/tflander/boards/

If you’re teaching about plant and growth and in Alberta then you’re teaching grade 4 science and you can consult this board (https://www.pinterest.ca/tflander/science-gr-4e-plant-growth-and-changes/) to see what resources the Doucette Library has to support it.  If you’re not in Alberta, I think there is enough here that would useful for others to consult, as well.

What I’ve worked on so far:

**Social studies grades 1-9;
**Science grades 1-8 (9 is coming soon);
**Math grades 1-6 organized according to board mathematical concept;

 and many topical boards based on requests from the education program’s students such as LGBTQ resources, picture books for older readers, resources for STEM, activists and activism, funny books, fractured fairy tales,  and indigenous education.

I’m sending out the reminder because I’ve just added to new boards for English language arts (ELA).  These two boards compile titles of books with strong leads or good beginnings and literary devices.  These came about because students had asked for recommendations for both of these kinds of books and as a reference librarian it’s a time consuming request. This time I decided to record the work as Pinterest boards. I’ve also asked Paula Hollohan, coworker and guest blogger, to contribute to the boards to have a couple of different points of view.


Take a look and let me know if you have some suggestions of books to add. I’m always open to suggestions.

Monday, March 12, 2018

We are all treaty people - Classroom resources


Today’s post is focused on three new books in the Doucette Library. I know these books will be useful for classroom teaching in the primary grades. But I have some concerns about recommending them, too.

Let me explain…

The three books are The Handshake and the Pipe, TheFriendship, and We Are All Treaty People by Betty Lynxleg, illustrated by Scott B. Henderson and Amber Green and make up the trilogy, Treaty Tales.



From western Manitoba’s First Nation of Tootinaowaziibeeng Treaty Reserve, Betty Lynxleg presents information about symbols of respect between peoples, early contact with settlers in Canada, and the establishment and intentions behind treaties. They are well-written, explaining the importance of shaking hands and sharing a pipe as symbols of respect. It clearly explains how Indigenous peoples in Canada helped Europeans survive in North America by showing them what to eat, harvest, how to navigate and live with the land. The third book conveys the importance of treaties and the significance they have (or should have) for all Canadians.

 One of the real strengths of the series, is the way the story is laid out. It is a conversation between a grandmother and her granddaughter, emphasizing oral storytelling as a way of teaching between the generations. I think trying to convey the values of First Nations peoples and their connection to the land is valuable and important for all children to learn and these books do that.

I know these will be used in classrooms as they give easily understood explanations about the basic relationship between Indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in Canada.

And that may be where my concerns arise from.

Because the books are an introduction for grades 1 to 3, the complexities of the history and current events of today between First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples and the Canadian government are glossed over.  These stories do not reflect the circumstances that drove Indigenous peoples to live on reserves or the realities of living there. The brutality, harsh living conditions and breaking of treaty promises is not addressed in any way.


Not that teachers are going to want books that really go into all the severity and ruthlessness that the past and the present encompasses. But when I think of books like Stolen Words by Melanie Florence, When I Was Eight by Kristy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton or When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson, all relating aspects of life in residential schools, these stories convey the deprivation without the horrific details which is appropriate for young readers.




All of these books require additional instruction for young students to begin to understand what Indigenous peoples have endured and continue to struggle with today. It will take a sensitive approach to tackle tough issues but these books will be helpful in initiating these kinds of conversations.

Another curriculum area that these books tie into nicely is social studies grades 1 and 2 about community.


Monday, March 5, 2018

Guest blogger: The New Smoke Signals



Paula Hollohan is the Instructional Technologies & Information Specialist in the Doucette Library who keeps up with technology trends in education. Today's blog reviews a  book that describes various modes of social media and how Indigenous peoples are connecting with it. Check in with Paula's blog, Doucette Ed Tech if you'd like to keep up with all sorts of cool and interesting, wide-ranging topics.


There are many benefits to working in an education library including reading many great books and working with some leading edge technology.  Once you are immersed in the collection, sometimes you find special interests that merit some study.  For me, I am always on the look out for ways that the indigenous people of Canada bolster the connection between young people and the elders of these communities.  

The importance of keeping the language and the stories of the past alive with younger generations and the capturing of these narratives in their original language is essential to begin the healing and to grow a strong future.

There is a powerful digital world out there that can be harnessed to capture these stories and connect indigenous communities together.

TheNew Smoke Signals: Communicating in a Digital World by Rachel Mishenene  is a small but powerful book that links the indigenous world to the digital world in a easy, uncomplicated way.  The book has a variety of information in it.  She says, 

"First Nation, Inuit and Metis people across the country have embraced this relatively new way of communicating with each other, learning new things and preserving the old teachings." (p.5) 

And so begins a look at modern technology like cellphones, social media like LinkedIn and blogs, to help tell the stories that are important to indigenous communities.  I especially liked the example of the blog, where a free-lance writer named Stan reflects on the life of his aunt in a blog post after she passes away.  Contained within this section are the reasons someone would blog and the fact that most blogs are read in the morning along with a complete reprint of Stan's tribute story about his aunt.

This book is from a small publisher called Ningwakwe Learning Press (www.ningwakwe.ca) but does a fine job of bridging the gap between young and old indigenous people.


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