Author Archives: LiterateOWL

About LiterateOWL

-a passionate teacher-librarian, hiker, paddler, photographer and reader. I am your potential information technology consultant, education trainer and creative solutions partner. Whether it be a community service group needing expertise or a mature graduate student requiring some librarianship coaching or maybe its even artwork for your house, I will be available to execute just in time solutions... "No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as your dog does." -anonymous

Beyond Five-Paragraphs

Firstly, I’m a teacher-librarian not an English teacher. I don’t pretend to be an expert in either craft.  I’m commenting to support the thesis in Kimberly Hill Campbell’s article of Education Leadership ‘Beyond the Five-Paragraph Essay’. Years of research indicate the model isn’t a wonderful writing aide. So why are we still fighting it’s implementation in 2014?  Our school has mostly moved away from it in favour of other writing devices. As a librarian the outcome and eventual writing or production exercise does influence your course of action.


“The five-paragraph essay format often puts students’ thinking in a box.  Ther’s a better way.”(Hill Campbell)

Many of colleagues have embraced a comprehensive inquiry model or PBL which starts with students generating big questions  not simply completing a  topic outline that fits 5 paragraphs or three boxes.  It’s valuable to emphasize organizational skills but in 2014 its finding personal meaning and filtering content within issues that is vital. Writing becomes a form of affirmation. Their writing is driven first by research and then by a deeper level of thinking.  Hill Campbell says, “developing an authoritative voice’. She claims the organization actually comes after the purpose of writing is generated- after the inquiry.  She discusses the virtues of not establishing predetermined formula of size or shape but let the student’s position statement and evidence dictate the organization and writing needs. I like her assessment.  Check her article out.




Hill Campbell, Kimberly. “BEYOND The Five-Paragraph ESSAY.” Educational Leadership 71.7 (2014): 60-65. Canadian Reference Centre. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.< >



Filed under Book Reviews, Periodicals, Personal Learning Network, Professional Development, Teacher Professional

A Job at Google or a Principal Job in West Vancouver?

Originally posted on :


Thomas Friedman recently wrote a piece in the New York Times on “How to Get a Job at Google.”  As I read the comments of Laszlo Bock, the Senior Vice President of People Operations for Google, the more I found that Google is looking for many of the same attributes in its employees that we are looking for in West Vancouver, when we hire principals and vice-principals.

One of the more common questions I am asked is just what does someone need to do to secure a school principal or vice-principal job?  The truth is there is no one thing or an exact path.  In West Vancouver we do receive dozens of applications for any job opening, and many of these candidates have all the required boxes checked for what is needed in these leadership positions.  Many who apply believe there is a certain ‘formula’ in getting a job as a principal or vice-principal, but I haven’t seen it yet. I…

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Kathy’s Tumblr – Standards can be censorship…

I’m a middle school librarian and try very hard to work with the faculty. This year I feel challenged, because students from one language arts class tell me that they are allowed to read only nonfiction. I approached the teacher, and he told me that it was because of the Common Core State Standards.


Challenge-Ready: Using Thoughtful Leadership to Promote the Freedom to Read | Scales on Censorship | School Library Journal(kishizuka)

*******************Al Smith*************************

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Reblog: Happier 2014

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by | 2014/01/20 · 3:17 pm

Organic food? Really? -CBC News #eng12ap


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Filed under Global Informed, Inquiry Resources

Book Riot- ‘world without libraries’

From August post…

5) “Close your eyes. Imagine you are walking through New York City. You see many empty lots say ‘Lot for rent’ or ‘Century 21 is going to be here.’ You were going to the library to get a book on plate tectonics when it hits you…NO LIBRARIES! We would have no places where you could just get in the zone and read. When you are going to a library, you are always welcome. You are away from all the city hustle and bustle madness. You are CALM. They always said ‘Silence is golden.’”

6) “At the library you can find anything from aardvark to zebu. When you are there and reading you are holding a work of art in your hands. You can feel the authors presence telling you the story. Wouldn’t Benjamin Franklin be upset if there were no libraries and he worked so hard on inventing them?”

7) “Libraries make people feel at home. When I first moved to New York City, coming from a more rural area of New York, everything was very confusing and weird but the library was something I had seen before.”

8) “They say everyone smiles in the same language. If this is true then everyone is speaking in the same language when they visit a library.”

9) “Libraries make the world go round. They keep the little sanity we have left here.”

And finally,

10) “The world without libraries is like a cone without ice cream.”(Meade)


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2014 LibraryGrl had me thinking…

A librarian blogger got me thinking about more about what I’m always thinking… :-) libraries and my students.

  1. How will you make a difference for students?
  2. How will you make your work the answer to the priorities/problems that keep your principal up at night?
  3. How will you use student data to make instructional and programatic decisions?
  4. How will you measure success?
  5. How will you connect the dots between your work and student learning?
  6. How will you share this data with your administrators and community?
  7. How will you ensure your diverse population sees themselves in your space (as well as in your collection)?
  8. How will you dispel negative/outdated library stereotypes?
  9. How will you grow your PLN?
  10. How will you help strengthen our profession by sharing your work beyond the walls of your school.
  11. How will you make sure everyone who walks into the library sees a focus on students (instead of stuff)?

PS: If you do decide to answer these questions on your own blog, consider sharing the link to your post in the comments.  That way we can all benefit from your ideas.

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Love each other or perish -Auden . What do we owe our future?

“Love each other or perish” – W.H. Auden

CBC Sunday with Michael Enright hosts a fascinating Canadian program on planning our future. What kind of Canada do we wish for? How do we get there? The cities need billions of dollars to fix their crumbling urbanscapes yet hundreds of km north, our Canadians have contaminated water and no housing. How do reconcile food banks and 1% multi millionaires in a civil society with an unsustainable resource economy?

What do we owe the future? (at 04:16)

ScreenCBCAs we contemplate the approach of another new year, we will look beyond 2014 – way beyond – to what we owe the future. Michael talks to three eminent and thoughtful panelspeakersCanadians; Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada; David MacDonald, a United Church minister who was a long-time Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament, and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi. They have a wide-ranging conversation about our obligations to the future generations we will never meet.


( CBC url )


Enright, Michael, and Susan Mahoney, prod. “Michael’s Essay; Our Debt to the
Future;.” Sunday Edition. CBC, 29 Dec. 2013. Web. 29 Dec. 2013.

WH Auden Quotes., n.d. Web. 29 Dec. 2013.

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Filed under Global Informed, Media Literacy, Reflective Learning

Adult Basic Education and ESL Resources | Grass Roots Press

Welcome to Grass Roots Press, Adult Basic Education and ESL Resources

Grass Roots Press has an international reputation for publishing high-quality resources for adult basic education and English as a Second Language communities. Grass Roots Press carries over 500 books, DVDs, and software packages. We publish assessment tools, workbooks, photostories, biographies, and literature — publications that enhance adults’ literacy skills.

Many of our chapter books are available as eBooks from the following retailers: Kobo, Kindle, iBooks, OverDrive, and MyiLibrary. You can stock up on the Good Reads, Pathfinders and Anna Sweet titles for only $2.99 per eBook.

To enrich the teaching and learning experience, we provide FREE audiobooks, workbooks and reading guides. We know that educators are stretched for time, so we will continue to supplement our books with free lesson plans. To access these resources, click on Free Downloads on the top left-hand side of this homepage.(Grassrootsbooks)

twoloons. @literateowl

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that mountain.”
Jack Kerouac ____________________
“Each time you open a book and read it,
A tree smiles knowing there’s life after death.”

- unknown _________________________

*******************Al Smith*************************

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BYOD – How to Walk Before You Run

Originally posted on :

BYOD Blog Photo

In some ways, this is a follow-up or companion piece to my post last week when teachers have mobile devices in the classroom, on our findings and efforts to ensure digital access for all of our teachers.

While this has proven to be very powerful for teachers, our next step is around finding access for all students.  In a previous post, I shared some thoughts around BYOD and Equity (an issue I think is crucial when looking at getting devices into students’ hands).

In West Vancouver, student access is growing; in some elementary schools students have regular access mainly from devices they bring from home.  In other schools it is less consistent with pockets of classrooms having students on devices.  One key piece of learning we have realized over the last three years is if students don’t have purposeful reasons to use their device in class they will often stop bringing it.

So, before one announces that…

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