The Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg (RCGW) has been dedicated to promoting literacy and developing lifelong readers since 1956. We have a proud history of being a literacy leader in Winnipeg and its surrounding area. We are a Special Area Group of Educators (SAGE) of the Manitoba Teachers' Society and a local council of the International Literacy Association.
RCGW provides professional development for educators, shares resources and ideas on our website, celebrates I Love to Read month, promotes literacy in the community, honours literacy leaders and up-and-coming teacher candidates, and supports literacy projects. Join RCGW today!
One of the silver linings of professional learning moving almost exclusively online is that there are numerous webinars available, most of which can be accessed for several weeks or months after the fact. We have been continually impressed by how well the International Literacy Association (ILA) has shifted their conferences and seminars online.
Check out ILA's series of FREE webinars available to members and non-members. There is something for everyone: equity, book access, Science of Reading, anti-racism, empowering students, tough conversations, and early literacy instruction.
There are also several ILA Webinars and ILA Intensives available for purchase for educators interested in a deeper dive into some of these topics.
Winnipeg author and teacher Colleen Nelson will be doing a virtual book launch on Thursday, April 15, 2021, at 7 p.m. for her new book The Life and Deaths of Frankie D., a story about a fantastical circus and a girl with no past. For more information and to register, please visit McNally Robinson's website.
Here are some upcoming professional learning opportunities you may find interesting.
Pembroke Publishers will present Supporting Student Mental Health, a free webinar, on Thursday, March 4, 2021 at 6 p.m. Central with Kathy Lundy, author of Teaching Fairly in an Unfair World and Creating Caring Classrooms, and Joey Mandel, author of Stop the Stress in Schools and Moment to Moment. Both Kathy and Joey are from Ontario. (In addition to amplifying the voices of Canadian educators, Pembroke Publishers also distributes Stenhouse Publishers in Canada.)
Today’s students are dealing with unprecedented changes, issues, and demands. Author-educators Joey Mandel and Kathy Lundy have the tips and tools you need to respond to kids’ feelings, questions, and challenges in proactive and positive ways.
The International Literacy Association (ILA) will present Culturally Relevant and Responsive: Literacy Instruction in 2021 and Beyond, on Tuesday, March 9, 1–4 p.m. Eastern. The event will feature keynote speaker Gloria Ladson-Billings, host Pamela Mason, and panelists Lucía Cárdenas Curiel, Matthew R. Kay, and Guofang Li. ILA writes that the event will address "how educators can identify the effects their own backgrounds and implicit biases have on teaching and learning; how to question pedagogy and policies that negatively impact learner outcomes; and proactive steps literacy and school leaders can take to dismantle oppressive systems." The cost to register is $99 USD.
Also, if you missed ILA Next this fall, you can now purchase learning packages as part of ILA Next On Demand. The packages feature the main stage sessions, learning labs, and pathway workshops. These webinars are available until August 15, 2021 and vary in price. Many RCGW board members participated in ILA Next this fall – and they loved the experience! Take advantage of this opportunity to learn from inspiring educators.
The Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg is proud to support literacy throughout Manitoba. As part of our outreach initiatives, we support members through awards and literacy grants, and we provide scholarships to teacher candidates who demonstrate excellence.
Our annual awards program recognizes those who have made valuable contributions to literacy in our province. With teachers going above and beyond to teach their students safely during the pandemic, we believe there is no better year to nominate deserving teachers. Nominations are due April 9, 2021. Learn more.
Two $500 scholarships are available to students in a Bachelor of Education program who plan to teach in Manitoba after graduation. Applications should be committed to furthering literacy and language arts skills of all students. Applications are due April 9, 2021. Learn more.
RCGW Literacy Grants
We have two literacy grants of $500 to offer members who design projects that improve the quality of literacy instruction, demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the impact of literacy, and promote development of literacy proficiency for all individuals. Applications are due February 26, 2021. Learn more.
February marks not only I Love to Read Month but also Black History Month, a time where parents and educators should celebrate the many contributions made by Black people and honour Black Canadian history. Here are resources you may find helpful: Virtual field trips, reading lists, and activities.
First, check out this list of Events from Black History Manitoba. On the list is an exciting Virtual Field Trip for Home Learning presented by the Manitoba Museum. A live, interactive field trip will look at Black History in Canada on February 20, 2021, at 2:00 p.m. Register online.
The Winnipeg Public Library has prepared an Info Guide for Black History Month. We love the list of books for teens and children. Consider the many titles when preparing reading lists and classroom library orders. A bonus for parents and educators in French Immersion: There are French books, too!
We appreciate this list of resources collected by Facing History and Ourselves’ Canadian Office. Many of the suggested resources are complex and would be best used in high school English Language Arts and Social Studies classrooms. However, they make for a fascinating personal read, too.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario has shared beautiful posters to celebrate the month along with links of interest. This year’s poster features Black NASA astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison in front of a unique projection of the world map and other symbols, which invite the viewer to pause and ponder. We could see classes practicing visual literacy using the See – Think – Wonder thinking routine to generate discussion about the ideas (and possibilities) conveyed by artist Leone McComas in her work.
The Black History and Anti-racism in Canada page on Manitoba Education’s Diversity Education website made for a fascinating read. Manitoba Education has provided a summary of Black History in Manitoba along with many resources to use in classrooms. The National Film Board has also curated a playlist, Black Communities in Canada: A Rich History, which features films of all lengths for all ages.
Finally, parents and educators may also be interested in a new book from DK Publishers, written by Mireille Harper: Timelines from Black History: Leaders, Legends, Legacies. A Discussion Guide will help educators translate the stories into rich discussions. Another new series comes from Crabtree Publishers. Their Black Stories Matter series would lend itself well to a middle-school study of biography writing. Crabtree also has a series of Black History biographies for the Early Years.
We remind parents and educators that celebrating Black history and amplifying Black communities locally and globally extends far beyond February. Events like Black History Month are necessary and important, but parents and educators must take action year-round to show that Black Lives Matter.
Did you know that the Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg supports community-based literacy initiatives? In addition to our support of Family Literacy Day and the Children's Hospital Foundation during I Love to Read Month, the Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg provides support to organizations who promote literacy and the development of lifelong readers. Here are two organizations we supported recently.
John Howard Society of Manitoba
The John Howard Society of Manitoba’s Literacy Program uses a variety of programs and dedicated volunteers to provide opportunities for incarcerated men to improve their basic literacy skills. Often, missed educational opportunities or negative school experiences can increase the chances of incarceration; therefore, gaining or building upon literacy skills through tutoring and encouragement improves post-incarceration job and education prospects. Research has also shown that inmates who avail themselves of educational opportunities while incarcerated reduce the chances of recidivism.
The program welcomes volunteers, particularly educators, to help deliver its very important services. These services include:
While all programs involving community volunteers are suspended due to COVID-19, the Society looks forward to when restrictions are lifted and will welcome volunteers when they are permitted to re-enter the Remand Centre.
The Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg donated to the John Howard Society of Manitoba's Literacy Program because we believe in their mission and value the work they do in our community to foster literacy among a population that is often overlooked but in great need of literacy support.
You Can't Spoil a Baby
The Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg also supported You Can't Spoil a Baby, a local organization that provides a gift to families in need. The organization's mission is to "reduce child poverty by delivering a baby gift to every expectant Manitoba family in need who applies and qualifies." With RCGW's donation, You Can't Spoil a Baby purchased books from McNally Robinson that value Indigenous perspectives, promote self esteem in children, and encourage biodiversity. See below their Facebook post that highlights the titles selected.
I Love to Read Month is a month-long celebration that is held each year to encourage reading, writing, and sharing in the joy of literacy. This year’s theme is Joyful Reading in a New World. This theme encourages readers to try new book formats and to take part in engaging activities that are adapted to work with our current situation during a pandemic. As such, this theme was also chosen to help inspire and encourage students during these difficult times, to reach out, step up and stay positive!
Please share RCGW's idea calendar with teachers, students and their families. It would make a great addition to your school newsletter. Activities are included for students of all ages to have them explore different ways of engaging with literacy. I hope that both teachers and students will have fun with the suggested activities and that they will challenge the students to learn something new. I also hope that families will be able to share the excitement of reading and writing together.
In addition to the idea calendar, the RCGW will be making a book and monetary donation to the Cancer Care Unit at the Children’s Hospital, so that the staff can continue to update their children’s and teen’s libraries and magazine subscriptions. This provides children, teens, as well as parents with reading materials that are appealing and entertaining, as well as supportive.
The RCGW thanks you for sharing this idea calendar. In doing this, you are helping to empower our students to change the world.
Well, 2020 has been a most amazing year. Never did we think that we would be working on a completely new way to teach in the midst of a global pandemic. Some of us feel like novice teachers again, searching for new strategies and approaches online while striving to learn effective ways to teach remotely or to do blended learning. There are so many challenges to overcome and questions to address. The current world situation is demanding a new pedagogy.
We need to look for new ways to collaborate with families in our educational endeavours. How do we build meaningful relationships with all our students and their families? How will we engage all learners? How will we sustain student interest? Then, how do we differentiate instruction online and afterwards?
We have been searching for resources online that will give us effective ways to teach remotely. Here is our list of resources for you to consider for your professional reading and future practice.
Heinemann & Pearson Canada
Jennifer Serravallo will be presenting for the Reading Council of Greater Winnipeg on her new book that addresses strategies for distance learning. Registration is still open for this Wednesday, February 17, 2021, after-school session. Thanks to our colleagues at Pearson Canada, which distributes Heinemann's publications in Canada, you can order a copy of Serravallo's book online and receive free shipping with the promotional code LEARN!
ASCD has developed a helpful series of short informational webinars on a variety of topics related to virtual teaching that are led by ASCD Faculty and other experts. ASCD Webbies include ideas for creating conversational norms and how to set concrete expectations in an online learning community. They seem to be regularly adding to the range of topics.
ASCD has devoted the entire Educational Leadership journal for December 2020 and January 2021 to the theme of Mental Health for Educators. During the summer, another issue of Educational Leadership was entitled A New Reality: Getting Remote Learning Right and featured several practical and insightful articles. It is now online and free to readers.
Corwin Canada is an important source for print and video resources for distance learning. Visit their website to see several books and resources on distance and blended learning for educators. You can preview the Table of Contents for the latest books dealing with distance and blending teaching and learning. Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey have collaborated with John Hattie on The Distance Learning Playbook, which is published by Corwin. The Distance Learning Playbook, Grade K-12 has already become a bestseller! There are several individual volumes that address the specific needs of classroom teachers, teacher leaders and parents.
Fisher and Frey also provided engaging workshops online at the ILA Next conference as well as on YouTube that really spiked interest in reading their print version. Check the newly refreshed Fisher and Frey website for a comprehensive list of valuable resources and their dynamic podcasts and video recordings that they have done in collaboration with a variety of organizations.
Teaching Channel is a dynamic American online community where educators K–12 can observe, share and learn different teaching techniques. They have recently expanded access to many online professional development videos to facilitate virtual instruction. After ILA's Literacy Next, they offered a series of free webinars with people like Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey, and Doug Lemov. Teaching Channel also offers a subscription that one can pay to access many online teaching videos. There are also formal courses where educators pay tuition to learn new pedagogical strategies and techniques to improve their practice. Learn more at www.teachingchannel.com.
ILA & NCTE
The International Literacy Association (ILA) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) continue to collaborate on the ReadWriteThink website, a goldmine of lesson plans, strategies, interactives and after school activities for teachers, students and parents. See the NCTE’s comprehensive compilation of online professional learning resources for teachers, students and parents. There are many digital tools that you will want to know about!
September 23, 2021 at 4:30 p.m. on Zoom
Board meetings are open to all members. Please consider attending!
We welcome book reviews, articles about teaching strategies, and other submissions. Please contact the Editor.