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					      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 (rcland@sasktel.net). 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
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   If you are interested, or if you have questions or concerns, please send an e-mail to Ryan
 Land (rcland@sasktel.net).
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