Inter STELA The Online Professional Newsletter of the SASKATCHEWAN TEACHERS OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS JUNE 2005 Now is the winter of our discontent Made glorious summer by this sun of York; And all the clouds that lowered upon our house In the deep bosom of the ocean buried. Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths, Our bruised arms hung up for monuments, Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings, Our dreadful marches to delightful measures. -- Act I, Scene I, Richard III, William Shakespeare In this issue… Editorials Joseph Duffy Award “It Worked for Me” Golden Taffy Winners Book Reviews Case Study Lesson Plans The McDowell Foundation Teacher Writer Contents From the Editor…..….…………………...2 Lesson Plans………..……..…………......10 From the President…………...……….......4 Golden Taffy Winners…………..…...…..15 Joseph Duffy Award….….…………...…..5 McDowell Foundation...…………….........19 It Worked For Me………………………..6 Teacher Writer…………………………..20 Regional Reps Acknowledgement…….…..8 Book Reviews………………………....…21 Case Study.….…….………………..……..9 Submissions…….…………………..……25 This space is reserved for YOU! This space is reserved for YOU! From the Editor Shakespeare’s opening for Richard III might lead us to suspect that he was a teacher, writing of the bittersweet splendour that is June. Not unlike the Duke of Gloucester, I have had quite a “season.” The range of my experience this year has included everything from birth to death. At the beginning of the school year I implemented a new “re-entry” program for at-risk youth. I also began to take a full Creative Writing course at St. Peter’s College that would last through to May. I organized a local poetry slam at the A & W and then took a group of students to the 2nd annual poetry slam event at the Saskatoon Public Library. In November, my partner and I welcomed our third child, Materia, into the world. This happened on the heels of being a part of the committee that brought the Saskatchewan Book Awards to Humboldt and that managed to attract over a hundred people to the event. The birth coincided with the beginning of the basketball season and the junior boys’ team that I coach eventually won the league championship. Early into 2005, I learned that an ArtsSmarts grant that I had applied for had been awarded and I went ahead with organizing the Sure Crop Student and Teacher Creative Writing Retreat as its and director. At the end of May, five teachers and twenty-eight students came to Bruno to enrich their creative writing skills under the professional guidance of Steven Ross Smith, J. Jill Robinson, and R.P. MacIntyre, among others. In February, I presented an “Effective Strategies” workshop at our convention (which I would later deliver again in Watrous), in March I was a featured poet at Humboldt’s Evening With the Arts, and in April I presented a Creative Writing Session at the STELA conference. During those months I was also part of a local group of artists that started the Pelican Bay Arts Collective and we held our first event, One Hundred Minutes for One Hundred Years, hosted by Allan Safarik and Gary Hyland. Sadly, while attending STF’s Big Questions, Worthy Dreams symposium immediately following the STELA conference, I learned that my mother had unexpectedly passed away earlier that day at the age of fifty-two. Needless to say, the week spent in Winnipeg dealing with her death was not a part of my year plans. Did I mention that I taught a few ELA classes in there as well? My point? Simply put, this is what we do. We invest our passionate attention in our communities, in our classrooms, in our families, in our profession, and all-too-rarely-but- occasionally-by-demand, in ourselves. Chances are we do not do it for the money, for the accolades, or for the prestige, though sometimes these things do in fact find us. Of course if we find ourselves asking, “Why do we do it?” then I might argue that perhaps we should not be. Personally, I have very deliberately gone through the list of commitments I have made (knowing full well that something must fall off my plate next year) to be certain that I am both necessary and appreciated in each of the areas. Inevitably, I have come to realize that I am neither in one or two. It gave me great satisfaction to come to the resolution that I will not be doing these next year. I have resolved to invest myself (that is, portions of my life) based on that which brings me joy and provides me with personal and professional satisfaction, rather than on an obligation or expectation imposed on me (sometimes, in truth, by myself). It will not be easy to raise my hand at the final staff meeting and admit to the change in commitment, however, that which is worth having is rarely easy. In laying the foundation for the announcement of my decision, I have found myself advocating for ELA teachers. I am surprised when my colleagues and community members lend the impression that they did not know ELA teachers were busy. I sense a general disbelief when I talk about the hours spent with assessment and evaluation that are, of course, in addition to the hours taken by the aforementioned activities. I am not sure how to remedy this without being dismissed as a whiner. I think some of the responsibility for providing a collective voice for our reality as ELA teachers rests with STELA. But then who drives STELA? Oh, that would be us, the membership. Obviously, the vehicle for change and for understanding needs high octane fuel and the dispensers of this are ELA teachers who are active, courageous, and vocal. Share your strengths and your reality with your community and with your colleagues. Invest time in your passions and in yourself. Commit to that which quickens your heart and will be honoured by those that you commit to. Hey, you could get involved with STELA or invest your valued perspective in Inter*STELA. We promise to honour your commitment. Ryan Land inter*STELA Editor From the President For many of us, tempus fugit takes on a whole new urgency this time of year. But no matter how busy you are, I invite you to take some time to rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul as you enjoy this edition of inter*STELA. No doubt, Ryan, our capable and creative editor, has compiled a newsletter filled with timely ideas, information, and inspiration. As the president of the newly formed executive, I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the dedicated people who currently serve our organization in a variety of roles and thank them for their work. STELA relies on the voluntary contributions of many people, all of whom deserve recognition, but in this edition of the newsletter I will highlight a few individuals worthy of special praise. First, I would like to thank our regional representatives who have served STELA faithfully and diligently. Although the position of regional representatives has been eliminated, we want to express our sincere thanks for the time and effort the regional representatives gave to our organization. Second, many thanks to Mike McGarity and his organizing committee for hosting a delightful conference. In the majestic setting of the Bessborough Hotel, conference participants enjoyed superb professional development and opportunities to share stories with colleagues. Third, thanks to Wendy Barker for all the work she has done in her numerous roles including STELA president, past president, CCTELA liaison, Joseph Duffy Award Committee chair, STELA Newsletter editor, and Golden Taffy judge. Wendy’s commitment and dedication to STELA are unparalleled. In fact, she came out of retirement to serve as president when we were in need of leadership. Fortunately, Wendy continues to chair the Joseph Duffy Selection Committee and to judge Golden Taffy submissions. Thank you, Wendy. We truly respect and appreciate your passion, expertise, and devotion. Finally, Lynn Howse, our current past president, is no less worthy of recognition. Under Lynn’s leadership, STELA has entered the 21st century with a strong sense of purpose and direction as witnessed by the many changes Lynn implemented. Through her foresight and under her guidance, STELA’s Web site was born, our newsletter went on-line, a mentorship program was developed, our constitution was updated and revised, and our executive was streamlined. In addition, Lynn oversaw STELA’s return to successfully hosting its own conferences. Although she remains on the executive as past-president, I want to acknowledge Lynn for her positive example of leadership, her dedication to promoting STELA, and her commitment to making STELA an organization of teachers for teachers. Please accept our sincere thanks, Lynn. Indeed, without the support and efforts of many, STELA could not pursue its mandate to meet the needs of Saskatchewan’s language arts teachers. So as you look forward to a well-deserved summer break, I wish you a successful year end and long summer days filled with reading, relaxation, and recreation. In closing, I encourage you to think about ways you would like to become involved in STELA. Drop us a line, e-mail us, or give us a call. Have a great summer! Cheers, Maureen Braun STELA President June, 2005 Joseph Duffy Award Joseph Duffy was a teacher, professor, and founding member of SETA, as STELA was formerly known. After his untimely death, an award was established to honour his memory and to celebrate excellence in the teaching of English Language Arts. When one looks at the list of recipients, it is evident that this is a prestigious award, as it has been presented to many well-known and master teachers. This year’s recipient is certainly someone who deserves to be recognized as one of this highly respected group of English Language Arts teachers. Margaret Corbett has been teaching at Hague High School since 1981. Beyond her role as a classroom teacher, she has been a pilot teacher, a modified senior English curriculum writer, an exam setter and validator, and a sub-examiner for the province of Saskatchewan. She has been a cooperating teacher, and she has been a mentor teacher. In addition to her professional involvement, she is actively involved in supervising, directing, or coaching several extracurricular activities such as the student newspaper, yearbook, graduation, choir, Christmas concert, junior volleyball, soccer, and basketball. Margi’s students suggest that she knows everything there is to know about the English language, and many refer to her as a walking dictionary. It is very clear that she is concerned that her students have a strong grasp of the language and its conventions, and she often uses the context of a literary passage or the students’ own writing to teach these skills. Beyond these skills, however, Margi creates an atmosphere where the students are inspired to engage in learning. She recognizes and meets the unique needs of her students. Margi has the ability to infuse her students with passion, perhaps because she demands the best of her students. Another reason why her students are so engaged is because she has created, in her classroom, a “haven where respect is expected and received.” One young man states that Margi helped him appreciate the beauty of literature. Many students, both past and present, commented on her ability to make Shakespeare accessible – inspiring students to see beyond the language barriers so they may find lessons that are relevant to their own lives. A former student has gained so much of an appreciation that she regularly attends Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan. Beyond the curricular content she teaches, Margi’s permanent smile brightens the days of her students. She is available for her students at all times for academic help or general advice. She has demonstrated compassion, patience, and caring. A current student says she is a “good hugger in bad times and good laugher in good times.” Most importantly, she has instilled pride and confidence in her students. To summarize Margi’s inspiration, I will use the remarks of Angela, a former student who is pursuing an education degree. She writes: “I have been a student a Margi Corbett since I was 12 years old. I say this in the present tense because I am twenty-five years old, and I still believe myself to be a student of Margi Corbett.” Margaret Corbett is certainly deserving of the Joseph Duffy Memorial Award for excellence in the teaching of English Language Arts. It Worked For Me Late assignments can be the tragic flaw of many of our students. In order to keep on top of the issue, I quickly check for missing assignments. If a student has neglected to hand in the assignment, I give him/her my late assignment notice - a form letter that is quick to fill in (student name, date, class, assignment, etc.), with an explanation of the penalty for late assignments, etc. The student must have the letter signed by a parent/guardian and it must be attached to the top of the late assignment. This is not incredibly time consuming, but it is a great way to keep parents informed, and I rarely have to use the forms more than once. Lynn Howse, Campbell Collegiate It Worked For Me APPLICATION FOR ESSAY REVISION Class: ____________________________________ Period:___________ Name: _____________________________________________________ Title of Assignment: __________________________________________ Date Submitted: _____________________________________________ My original mark on this assignment was ________%. After reading (insert teacher’s name here) feedback, and looking at the evaluation expectations, I realized that the following aspects needed improvement: ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ Please accept this as my application for an essay revision. I realize that writing can always be improved, and that revision is a necessary component of the writing process. As well, I understand that this revision will not be marked if (a) the original copy is not included, and/or (b) the revision is superficial. ___________________________________________ Signature *Please attach this on top of the submission. Carmen Holota, Campbell Collegiate Regional Reps STELA would like to thank the following people for their commitment and for their contributions as Regional Reps: Regina City Rep Janine Taylor Saskatoon City Rep Patrick Davis Saskatoon Rural Rep Ryan Land Regina Rural Rep Chris Beingessner Yorkton-Melville Rep Dennis Nesseth Weyburn-Estevan Rep Ward Mowry Moose Jaw & Area Rep Melissa Meadows Melfort-Tisdale Rep Anna Wehrkamp Swift Current & Area Rep Maureen Braun Lloydminster-Battlefords Rep Shauna Cheriyan Prince Albert & Area Rep Victoria Oldershaw Case Study The Blame Game Mandy came into my room at the end of September. All I knew about her was that she had attended another school for two days at the beginning of the semester, had missed the following four weeks because she was “sick,” and that she lived on her own. I warmly welcomed her into our room and had a package of materials (course outline, missed assignments, etc.) all ready for her when she arrived. We were already into Act 2 of Hamlet, but she caught on quite quickly; clearly this was not the first time she had studied this text. In the beginning, I had a very positive outlook about Mandy; it was clear she was intellectually capable of completing the course and I was happy to catch her up to speed. Mandy missed two days of her first week in my class and one of those days was a quiz. The policy was that if there was no call explaining your absence the morning of the missed test, you would receive a zero. There was no call about Mandy, so I asked the office to give her a ring. They did, but got no answer. When she arrived back to school she explained that her absence was due to a court appearance. She had the documents to prove it so I made an exception and allowed her to schedule a time over a lunch hour to write the quiz, though I told her that in the future she let me know about these types of absences ahead of time. The class before the rescheduled time she told me she would be unable to make it to write the quiz because her pregnant friend needed help moving. She asked if she could reschedule for the following morning. Again, I accommodated her. She was given the option of coming in as early as 7:15, but decided that if she came at 7:45 she would have enough time. The next morning, Mandy did not arrive until 8:05, claiming her sister missed the bus and she had to drive her to school. I gave her the quiz and told her to get to work. After about five minutes, she asked if she would be receiving more time to complete the quiz. I told her that, no, she would not—she could not afford to miss any more class time. She continued to complain, trying to convince me from various angles that she should get more time. I told her that she was wasting the time she did have that that my answer was not going to change. I reassured her that this quiz would not impact her mark that badly in the long run and that she should just get as much done as possible in the time she had left. She reminded me about her ADHD and about how I was required to give her extra time because of her disability. I told her that I had given her extra time—her original rescheduled time would have provided over and hour and she could have come as early as she wished that day. Mandy refused to take any responsibility for the circumstances and her choices and continued to complain until the bell rang. The following day, my co-op asked my students to fill out comment cards about my progress to help inform her for her first IPP. Mandy stayed into the lunch hour to complete hers. It became clear she was waiting for me to leave the room and so I told my co-op I would meet her in the staff room. Twenty minutes later, my co-op came to meet me and informed me of her conversation with Mandy. Basically, Mandy told my co-op that I was unfair and ignorant of my responsibilities to a student with ADHD. She told my co-op that she had dealt with teachers “like [me]” before by going to the school board. My co-op immediately called her on her threat and again pointed out how Mandy’s own choices and actions had lead to her circumstances. Mandy backed down quickly and began back-peddling. Just in case, though, my co-op and I discussed the matter with our vice principal. Upon hearing the name, he realized he had taught her in elementary school and informed us of her rough home life. He told me not to worry; this was not new behaviour for her. Mandy’s attendance continued to be spotty and she always had an excuse or a story when she returned. She demanded so much of my time and energy, I began to resent having her in the class and enjoyed the days she wasn’t there. There were other students in my class who had been labeled “lost causes” with whom I established great relationships. I never thought I would be the teacher to “write someone off,” but I did with Mandy. Although as long as she attended my class I did what I was required to do, I no longer went out of my way to help her catch up. I was short in my dealings with her and I am sure that my frustration showed. I justified my behaviour by telling myself that I was simply holding her accountable for her choices and trying to teach her responsibility. When Mandy was missing for over a week, I tried to call her to see if she would be returning. There was no answer. I let the office know and left the situation with them to handle. Meanwhile there were other students I was fighting for to ensure that they stayed in school. I didn’t and still don’t like the teacher I was to Mandy. Do you have a response to this case study? Do you have a case study that you would like to share? If you would like to respond or get some response to a case of your own, please e- mail it to Inter*STELA (firstname.lastname@example.org). Names must be changed and the teacher’s name will not be given. Lesson Plan Grade 3 ELA Lesson Plan: Role Play Response Using The Rumor Submitted by: Jason Howse, W.S. Hawrylak School, Regina Materials: Picture book – The Rumor by Jan Thornhill, cardstock paper, scissors, markers, yarn Procedure: I began this lesson by discussing what rumours were, and what made them different than telling a lie. The students were able to express that rumours were lies told by a person to someone else, and that they were then spread to others by the people who heard them. To further illustrate this, I began to read the picture book The Rumor by Jan Thornhill. The plot of the book is similar to that of the chicken who proclaims that the sky is falling. In this version, a rabbit from India is struck in the head by a mango. What sets this book apart from the more traditional version is that in the end, an equal responsibility is placed on the animals that flee without questioning the rumour’s merit as the rabbit who initiated the rumour. Near the end of the story, the rabbit learns that the claims he has made to the others were false. At this point I stopped reading, the students put on ready-made masks of the animals in the story, and we held a “town meeting” role play. Helpful hint – draw names to assign a specific number of students per animal to help with the structure of the role play, otherwise several students will want to be the rabbit or lion. In the role play, the student who played the part of the rabbit had to confess to the other animals, and the animals in turn were allowed to express their feelings about what he/she had done. It is always surprising how well the students are able to identify with their character simply by dawning a mask, and you can expect some very sophisticated comments to arise from the activity. After 5 – 10 minutes, we “adjourned” the meeting and returned to the book. I then asked the students who was most responsible for the rumour being spread, and the majority responded that the other animals should have been smart enough to know that the rumour might not be true. This was a very effective look at how rumours work, and served as a wonderful tie-in with our Health unit on bullying. As well, because it did not involve any children or school-related issues, it was a very non-threatening activity for students as well. Lesson Plan ELA Lesson Plan: What If You Were the Teacher? Submitted by: Dwayne Oral Presentation For 10 minutes, you are the teacher. As the teacher, you must do the following: You will bring to class a song similar to the ones we have just analyzed. (Of course, it must be school appropriate) You will give a brief introduction about the song and the writer/band. You will play the song to the class. You will write on the board 1-3 questions. One, at least, of which will be a high-level thinking question. The 3 questions will be worth a combined total of 5 marks. Be prepared to answer one question from me as well as any that may come from your class. Your students will write down the questions. You will assign them to be due the next day. The next day, your students will hand in their questions to you. You will mark them. The following day you will hand them in to me, along with the original questions and an answer key. Be sure to have a total. Evaluation: Questions (/5), Marking (/10), Song Choice (/5), Lesson (/10) KEYS… Be prepared Choose an appropriate song Remember to introduce song and band Be knowledgeable Make good questions, not things like “What is the name of the song” Mark fairly and properly (Not too easy or too hard) I will evaluate them myself to make sure they are properly marked and will change marks if I see the necessity. (Hopefully I will not have to do this) Have fun. STUDENTS… Be sure to hand in neatly the answers to each teacher next day. Each of these assignments will count for 5 marks, so they will add up. If it is not handed in the day it is due it will be a zero, so be organized. Make sure your name is on it!!! Lesson Plan ELA 20 Media Studies Lesson Plan: Pop Culture Poster Submitted by: Carmen Holota, Campbell Collegiate 1. Form a group of no more than three (or work alone if you prefer). Your group (or you) will be assigned a decade to work with. 2. Do some research on your assigned decade and find, from that decade, a pop culture icon or mega-celebrity in one of the following areas: Politics Civil Rights Music Sports Art (Note: You could choose Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Wayne Gretzky, Dr. Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi - anyone that is/was a significant celebrity in the assigned decade.) 3. Research this person's history, contributions, and achievements. Write a short, formal essay outlining how this person is a significant icon of your decade. This essay is to be placed on the poster. (Remember to use proper essay form!) 4. Find/draw pictures to place on your poster. (Please do not rely solely on computer printed images.) 5. Along the left hand side of the poster, place a word or phrase that somehow captures your pop icon's personality, contributions to society, and achievements. For example, if you were doing Marilyn Monroe, your phrase might be "sex goddess". 6. Along the other three sides of the poster, generate a recurring image. For example, if you were doing Muhammad Ali, you might choose the recurring image of boxing gloves. 7. Place all this on bristol board and be prepared to read and present your chosen icon to the class in an interesting way. Your goal is to captivate the audience! Lesson Plan ELA A30 Lesson Plan: A Journey Through Contemporary Canadian Music Submitted by: Lynn Howse, Campbell Collegiate 1. I start by asking students who their favourite Canadian musicians are, and we group them by genre. 2. We take note of how many of them receive radio play, and this leads into a discussion/debate of the pros and cons of Can-Can. (While Can-con promotes Canadian music, it is often the same artists who are played in heavy rotation who benefit. Once the labels have a superstar, why promote other Canadian artists? Furthermore, many Canadian retro tracks are played vs. playing new Canadian artists). 3. I give the students an assignment to explore an underexposed Canadian musician. They must listen to an album and respond to the song-writing and musical talent of the artist/group. They must also research some biographical information and present their findings to the class. www.maplemusic.com is a great resource. Some underexposed artists include the following: Rufus Wainwright Oh Susanna Danny Michel Sarah Harmer Sarah Slean Luther Wright & the Wrongs Rheostatics Hawksley Workman Royal City Tegan & Sara Tori Cassis Pilate Despistado Joel Plaskett The Dears Howie Beck Buck 65 The Dirtmitts Cuff the Duke Julie Doiron Kathleen Edwards Heavy Blinkers Kid Koala Jane Siberry Martina Sorbara Broken Social Scene Mia Sheard The Stars Tangiers Be Good Tanyas 4. This last part of the mini-unit was inspired when I was perusing my shelves of Canadian literature and glanced at my husband’s copy of On a Cold Road by Dave Bidini of the Rheotstatics. The book documents the band’s tours across Canada, incorporating quotations from many people who are influential in the Canadian music industry. While browsing www.maplemusic.com, I had noticed several musicians had online tour journals. I found journals from Jann Arden, Great Big Sea, The Arrogant Worms, Sam Roberts, and Sarah Harmer. The students had to read the journals and: a) find examples of Canadian identity b) note how place of origin (region, rural/urban background, etc.) affects perception of the world c) note any mention of the landscape (natural or man-made) and of the seasons. Why do Canadians have an awareness of their surroundings? Golden Taffy Winner SENIOR POETRY CONTEST WINNER 2004 Toronto Bus Stop in Winter Lauren Kresowaty, Turtleford School Teacher: Shauna Cheriyan Like I do everyday, I wonder if I'm at the right stop. I watch people drink their coffee, roll up the rims. None of them are winners, they throw their paper cups into the street. A gorgeous but tired woman beside me lights a cigarette breathes in wrinkles and bad health with every puff. I imagine that she uses Oil of Olay. I imagine that she uses a Stairmaster. Every time she draws a tar-laden breath she takes in all she fears; age ugliness, a short life with not enough time. No wonder as her bus pulls up to the curb she crushes her cigarette under her pretty shoes, angry at her destiny. In February, the city is trying to shake off its dead winter skin. These everyday addicts pull it tighter around themselves finding security in their grey half-lives. Beside them, I feel so young and so naïve. Through the stink of cremated tobacco that still hangs in the air I attempt to smell the coming spring; envision the paper cups floating along through the gutters, out to the ocean, free at last. Golden Taffy Winner SENIOR SHORT STORY CONTEST WINNER 2004 No Toy Engine Becky Thiessen, Maryfield School Teacher: Lydia Frazer The small, blonde boy was dragged along as his mother darted to and fro among the frenzied shoppers. His hand was clasped tightly in hers to avoid being swept away by the swelling tide of harried people who searched the shops in a desperate panic. His green and blue striped toque sat atop his soft, golden curls, and its pom-pom bounced as his short legs attempted to match the steps of his mother. He had been commanded to leave his toque and coat on because they would only be shopping for a gift for Daddy, and then be going home. His hand momentarily left his mother's hand as a rushed man pushed his cart too close to the wall and the little boy was squished like a bug against the brick wall. He peered through the metal squares of the cart and imagined that he was looking through a prison cell. His reverie abruptly halted as his mother firmly grabbed his wrist and pulled him back into the racing river of shoppers. "Mama, my legs are tired," the little boy whimpered quietly and slowed his pace in the hopes that his hastening mother would stop. His mother pretended not to notice and yanked his arm to urge him on. He began to drag his feet along the wet, dirty mall tiles, slippery from melted snow. His feet ached and his small form was jostled among hundreds of people. "Mama, can we go home? My feet hurt." There was a childish urgency about his voice that grated on his mother's brittle nerves. With an air of impatience, she scanned the mall for an unoccupied bench on which she could assign her whining son. Finally, she spotted a bench with an empty space beside an elderly woman outside the shops she intended to browse. She confirmed that she had a full view of her young boy, and with a frustrated sigh, she plunked her son down. After a terse command to stay where he was, she marched into the shop. The little boy's curious, blue eyes skittered up the mall's concourse, each shop decorated with a patchwork of red and gold, silver and green. In one window, he stared at a miniature St. Nicholas, dressed in a scarlet robe, holding a candle and swaying robotically back and forth. The boy's ears, which stuck out a little too far to be perfect, perked at the sound of Santa's trademark laughter and he twisted on the bench to see children holding their parents' hands as they waited eagerly in line for a turn to tell Santa their sugarplum dreams. He wished that he could sit on the jolly old man's knee and he inched over to watch until he was pressed tightly against the bench armrest. He grew restless and his pale, blue eyes left the line of glowing children. They widened when they came to rest on a shiny, red fire engine displayed enticingly on top of a snowy wooden pedestal in front of a toy store. His tiny mouth quickly dropped in childish pleasure. Then his lips pursed rosily in determination. It was the most beautiful engine he had ever seen. It was perfectly real with tiny ladders, coiled hoses, a crew of genuine little men and a spotted Dalmatian firedog. He could almost see the wind ruffling the firefighter's hair and could hear the bark of the lively black and white dog as they streaked expertly to the scene of a fire. The boy cautiously, yet with an obvious subtlety, glanced at the old woman sitting beside him and his sparkling eyes noticed that she was asleep. He dipped his head to peer into the shop where his mother had disappeared what seemed like hours ago. He spotted his mother inspecting a table of traditional masculine gifts---ties. He hesitated a few seconds to confirm that no one would notice his absence. He hopped to the floor with a small thump. He darted across the concourse and stood in awe before the toy engine, his heart beating a quick rhythm of excitement. The shiny engine was unflawed, as he had first thought. The red body gleamed and glittered. The golden mini-lights reflected and made it glimmer. He reached out to touch the glowing engine, then glanced back to see if his mother had noticed that he was gone. Her head was bent in concentration over a huge stack of dress ties. He turned back to the valuable trinket and imagined that he was on the truck. In a moment, he was dressed in a big yellow trench coat, flying down a city street to save a burning house from utter destruction. His daydream came to an abrupt halt as he heard his name being called and saw his mother searching the mall with frightened, frantic eyes. He squeezed his body into a crevice formed between the wall and the display pedestal. His petite frame fit perfectly into the small space and he shrank back, hidden from sight. His mother sounded irate and he knew why. He had directly disobeyed her curt order to remain seated on the bench until she returned. He cowered like an abused puppy. Mama was always sharp and agitated when they went Christmas shopping. From his secret hiding place, the little boy could hear his mother's voice as it grew in volume and pitch. She was exceptionally angry now and he held his breath, as if he could stop his mother's fury if he ceased to breathe. A mass of people scurried like mad mice around his mother, who dashed about hysterically hoping to find her missing son. He watched as she disappeared into one store, then another, and finally pushed her way roughly into the store that he was hiding in front of. He closed his frightened eyes as she rushed past him, willing her to leave. He could hear her as she interrogated the cashier in hopes that he had seen a little blonde boy wearing a striped toque. The innocent cashier apologized insincerely and turned to aid another customer. The boy's mother left the shop in a fury of a rustling green coat and scarf. Her face was pinched and pale and the boy mistook her worry for rage. He sighed in relief as she swished out of the store and down the busy concourse, floundering in the sea of people as she shoved her way upstream in a river of downstream shoppers. He sat silent for many moments, imagining the discipline that would greet him if he revealed himself. He was proud of his ability to hide from his mother. Suddenly, his eyes widened in realization and fear gripped his small figure. Perhaps, he thought, Mama is so angry that she will leave me here and I will never see her again. He remembered the special Christmas tree that he and his parents had set up the night before and all of the cheerful presents that surrounded it. Suddenly, it was very important to feel his mother's hand around his. It seemed vital to be safe and secure in his mother's arms. He decided that any punishment he received for leaving the bench was better than being completely abandoned for life. He rose stiffly from his crouched position behind the display and stole around the pedestal. He scanned the concourse, and panic filled him as he realized that his mother was no longer in sight. A bump from a shopper caught him up in the swirling river of people and carts and bags. His small body was lost in the surging rapids and he was helpless but to flow along with the raging river. He fought to see through the crowd in hopes of a glimpse of his mother's familiar figure. Yes, there she was ahead of him; he breathed a sigh of relief. Her long green coat swished back and forth as she strode on ahead of him. He pushed harder against the crowd, forcing himself to span the distance between them. "Mama!" he cried out, but his voice was drowned by the clank of carts and the dull roar of people conversing over soft Christmas music. The alarmed little boy suddenly lost sight of the green coat; his throat pinched, and his eyes filled with tears. He was hot, frightened, and confused, for the crowd had bustled and twisted him along until he lost all bearing on his location. Abruptly, the green coat flashed before him, close enough to touch. He reached out to grab a fistful of green material, but two children ran past, blocking his short reach. His mother was elusive and each attempt he made to reach out to reveal himself to her, she seemed to slip through his anxious hands. The little boy froze as a booming voice resounded in the busy concourse and startled his already fragile emotions. He whirled as he heard his name and the voice instructed him to walk to the information center in the middle of the mall. The deep, loud words frightened him so that he panicked and began to sob. His stricken conscience burdened him and he wished that he had never seen the toy engine. Perhaps Mama would be so relieved to see him that she would buy it for him for Christmas. He hurried after the green coat, which had disappeared in front of him. He struggled against the flow of people until, with a desperate cry of relief, he broke through the wall of shoppers and ran to the familiar coat. With a deep, heartfelt sob, he slipped his small hand inside the warm hand of his mother. His mother turned and the little boy's hand dropped to his side. He began to weep tired, distressed tears as his mother turned and transformed into a complete stranger who seemed just as surprised as the small, distraught boy who stood before her. His tears blurred his vision and the shiny colored lights that decorated the mall's concourse became confusing and fuzzy. He nodded as the stranger in the green coat knelt in front of him and gently inquired if he was lost. She had kind brown eyes, like a teddy bear, he thought as she tenderly took his small, trembling hand in hers and produced a tissue from her purse. His tears subsided as the stranger, like a shepherd, led him through the milling shoppers to a small booth in the center of the concourse where a group of worried security officers stood. The little boy's sobs turned to hiccups as he waited while the stranger explained her discovery. Suddenly, the boy heard his mother's panic stricken voice, full of tears, calling his name. He turned and saw her running toward him, a look of despair on her haggard face. He shook with relief as she enveloped him in her arms. Hot tears fell on his blonde curls as he breathed in her familiar scent. The embrace lasted only a moment and he cried out as she roughly jerked him away from herself. His teary blue eyes filled with pain and hurt as her fingers dug into the soft baby flesh on his arms. She rattled his small frame and exploded in anger. "How dare you run off like that! I have searched this entire mall and I'm ready to collapse! I wish that someone had taken you. You are nothing but trouble. Where were you? Where were you?" Her voice shook and cracked as she scolded him harshly. Without waiting for an answer, she snatched his toque from the floor where it had fallen and roughly seized his small hand. The small boy said nothing, but tears brimmed over his lids as he was marched down the concourse of the mall and out into the crisp and biting December air. His shaking body flinched as he felt his mother's stinging grip and recalled the angry words that had slapped him with more force than a hand ever could. Home seemed cold and foreboding now, a threatening shadow of pain. The cheer of the joyful season faded and waned. There would be no toy engine for Christmas this year. McDowell Foundation Teacher Writer Watching Woman1 By Ryan Land This house becomes you enourmous washer woman rag grown stiff with winter windows and voices, all gone now snow rushes in on pigeon wings a depression of white dust the cacophony of cooing your one small comfort His shoes and the sofa furnish your memory always in the next small room remains of your days God still thinks to lift dawn sets it into the cracked callous of your palm the washcloth warmed, if only slightly forever offered, bare across an outstretched limb this one-handed prayer The plumes from the chimney are feathered now, only the birds are nesting, building a life around you, the only hope against the steady thrum of weather and hours is the truth that you have always been this house Feet naked and sure dress frozen in drifts around your legs knees bent to take the first strong step through the frame, free hand pressed into the wall steady girl the door will stay open and this will still be Marysburg that it may sing for you even when the work is done and this house ends 1 Same title as sculpture in Marysburg, done by Heather Benning Book Review A Review of McNinch and Cronin’s (eds.) I Could Not Speak My Heart: Education and Social Justice for Gay and Lesbian Youth Reviewed by Lisa Wong The compilation of information in I Could Not Speak My Heart is very powerful and informative. It appeals to the readers’ sense of emotion and compassion for ‘the other’ in our society. It implores teachers and beginning teachers to incorporate and include not only racial minorities in our classrooms, but sexual minorities as well. Carol Schick’s article “Disrupting Binaries of Self and Other: Anti-homophobic Pedagogies For Student Teachers” asks us, as beginning teachers, to recognize our own biases and privileges before we can begin to educate our students to be open- minded and accepting. I Could Not Speak My Heart is divided into three sections. The first section is a powerful narrative hook to appeal to the readers’ empathy for youths and their struggle for equality. You hear the voices of the ones that have long been silenced. They are the ones that have been deemed the ‘other’ in society because they are a sexual minority. The book discusses how racial discrimination is not tolerated in our classrooms or society. So, why is sexual discrimination still largely ignored? Part II is Understanding the Context for sexual discrimination, or heteronormativity. The articles relate to the status of First Nations’ women and the history that has shaped the ‘norm’ of belonging to a heterosexual relationship. The section also focuses on Saskatchewan activists and the STF (Saskatchewan Teachers Federation) and what they have done to inform the residents of Saskatchewan about homophobia. The STF program informs teachers and schools about sexual identity and the myths and facts relating to homophobia. The program would do well to inform veteran teachers and beginning teachers alike. Part II was informative and engaging, and included not only history, but included the First Nations’ perspective on heteronormativity. Part III is about the Implications For Practice. It includes an article by James McNinch about his course on “Schooling and Sexual Identities in the Faculty of Education” at the University of Regina. In his course, he had an assignment that asked the students to “integrate sexual difference into the curriculum in an age appropriate way.” The focus of the assignment was to strategically incorporate sexual differences into lessons to teach awareness, rather than to segregate sexual differences. McNinch’s course is well received and I believe that the course is very useful to beginning teachers. There is a multicultural class to inform students about race, gender, and ethnic differences, why not a class on sexual difference? The book is informative to teachers because it extends our knowledge about sexual differences and the agony and feelings that many of our students may be experiencing but are too afraid to tell others. We need to be educated about differences amongst our students because each student deserves our attention and understanding. After all, if teaching is about developing trust with our students, how could we possibly do that if we are not well informed about personal issues that may be affecting them? The book informs us from the view of students, teachers, and professors and gives us the context in which homophobia is constructed. McNinch, James and Mary Cronin, eds. I Could Not Speak My Heart: Education and Social Justice for Gay and Lesbian Youth. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center, 2004. Book Review A Review of Greg Michie’s Holler if You Hear Me: The Education of a Teacher and his Students Reviewed by Cody E. Dill Greg Michie is a young, middle-class, white teacher who accepts a teaching position in Chicago’s impoverished South side. This book is a memoir of his eye-opening experiences working with underprivileged youth, specifically Latin American and African American students in a Middle Years setting. Michie details his struggles in connecting with students, taking pains to gain their respect by giving them his own. Some might find him a little hard to give credibility to in light of his age and experience, but his 9 years of teaching may just encompass more density of action than 30 years teaching in Small-town, Canada. In light of this, I found him believable as a writer. His style is almost conversational and intimate, like a child running home from a wild experience saying, “Get this…” to his parents. His writing expects the reader’s sympathy for his students, and gets it. A notable aspect of the book is that following each chapter, Michie includes a supplemental thorough student testimonial (a new one each time) that compliments the memory or scenario he’s just described. Michie, then, becomes more of a facilitator or a medium through which these students can speak than a self-serving author. Michie goes to great lengths to separate the truth of his students’ lives from the popular Hollywood films that show students going from educational rags to riches in a fast-forward montage of slow but sure trust-gaining on the part of a teacher-saviour hybrid. I think the differences is that in Hollywood, the teachers are always the heroes, but by giving the students a voice – Michie gives them a chance to save themselves. Michie’s book title is also noteworthy; the phrase “holler if you hear me” comes out of African American Vernacular English and has found its place in the like community as a plea for understanding and empathy. In this context, to holler is to let someone know and, to hear is to understand. Providing a channel for a few voices (which speak on behalf of countless others), Michie asks, will you understand? The subtitle also has plain but profound implications as we realize that the education of a teacher goes beyond his years in university. Gregory Michie sets a standard for the reflective practitioner and life-long learner in his writings, one that we might all benefit from emulating. So what can a Saskatchewan teacher take away from a book about Chicago’s South Side? It’s not far-reaching to observe that issues of the American inner city are analogous to ones closer to home. The First Nations student population is on the rise in Saskatchewan. It will require reflection and practice alike to prepare accommodations for a cultural presence in the classroom that has demonstrable historical attachments to poverty and other issues. Holler if You Hear Me is indeed an exercise in reflection, and a good record of practical implications for teachers working with impoverished racial-cultural minorities. What can’t we learn from that? I recommend this book for any teacher who wants to take education outside of a two- dimensional space and watch it flourish. Teachers here and abroad have a commitment to teach every student. Perhaps unlike in the realm of other vocations, we have not only a professional but also a moral responsibility to uphold that commitment. So if we don’t read and reflect, if we don’t make changes, that is, if we’re only teaching all of our students, are we really teaching anybody? Michie, Greg. Holler if You Hear Me: the Education of a Teacher and his Students. New York: Teachers College Press, 1999. Book Review A Review of Robert E. Brooke’s (ed.) Rural Voices: Place Conscious Education and the Teaching of Writing Reviewed by Fallon Prince “Schools ought to attend more consciously to their physical place on earth.” -- Theobald (1997) Rural Voices, edited by Robert E. Brooke, is based on writing, place, and rural education. This book is divided into eight chapters that are all written by teachers who work in a rural environment. They give their reflective experiences with rural education, and some ideas to use when implementing place-conscious education in your own classroom or school. The teachers who contribute to the book are all from rural Nebraska, but the material they present to the reader can be transferred to any place, whether rural or urban. The preface of the book explains, “This is a book for writing teachers, written by other writing teachers. This book also celebrates local knowledge - the engagement of teachers and students with their immediate communities, their region, and the local issues that frame their daily lives” (p. ix). Although the material presented can be applied to any place, the focus is on rural education. Each writer in the book tries to enforce the idea of students feeling a sense of pride and appreciation, as well as creating a new perspective of their place. Through that awareness, the writers all believe the students will have a better understanding of themselves and the world. A common idea brought up by each of the writers was that their students felt detached from and driven to leave their rural place as soon as they are finished school. One teacher/writer explains, “Far too often students are disengaged from the realities of their communities and of the possibilities their local place could hold for them” (p. 155). As a way to fix this problem, the teachers have all used writing to unearth a new meaning to the students’ place. Writing takes many forms as the teachers find ways to connect it to place. The ideas given by the writers are detailed and practical so that they can be applied for your own use. Some ideas include using regional or local literature as a jumping point for students to create their own, leaving the classroom to learn and then later write about local natural or historical sites (which could work very well for integrating other subjects), job shadowing local business people and following up with a ‘job writing’ unit, and my favorite idea, creating a pen-pal relationship with elderly people in the community. The ideas presented are all authentic reasons for writing; ones that give back to the community in some way. Growing up and attending school, as well as interning in a rural area, I could relate very well to what these writer were describing and trying to achieve through place- conscious education and writing. By describing their own successes through the active writing assignments they carried out with their students, I can see and appreciate the benefits of place-conscious education. What these eight teachers have shown me is there are many nooks and crannies of a local place that are often overlooked, which in fact, can be used to create a richer, diverse experience for students. Brooke, Robert E. (ed.) Rural Voices: Place Conscious Education and the Teaching of Writing New York: Teachers College Press; Berkeley Calif.: National Writing Project, c2003 Submissions Inter STELA Needs You We need submissions and feedback in order to sustain and improve this newsletter. We accept submissions for any of the columns included in this newsletter. In addition we are also interested in the following: creative writing (fiction and poetry) by teachers non-fiction, especially by Saskatchewan teachers abroad letters to the editor or notes from the field If you are interested, or if you have questions or concerns, please send an e-mail to Ryan Land (email@example.com). Submissions should be sent as a Word attachment or within the body of the e-mail. You must be a member of STELA in order to submit. There is no payment for publication.