Archive for the ‘joy’ Category

Sunday Evening Conversations and Sharing Our Passions

Posted on: September 17th, 2016 by lschwartz No Comments

I have a regular routine.  Sunday afternoons I begin my chores to start the week. One chore is the preparing the recycling and food compost for collection. It is not always my favourite job, but in the last few months it has become a welcome routine.  There is a gentleman who lives in our neighbourhood who collects bottles. I know that if I put out bottles that can be collected for a deposit around 5:45 on Sundays, I can talk to him.  He loves to talk about birds and sunsets and the phase of the current moon.  I have learned quite bit about birds from him the last few months.

Last Thursday I went for a walk after school.  Walking along the dyke in Richmond on a beautiful evening and I spotted my Sunday friend.  He was carrying a camera with a massive lens.  A speciality lens used for shooting things at a distance like birds and high level sporting events. He was taking photos and sharing them with a fellow walker.

As I witnessed this exchange between the two men, my brain started making all kinds of connections between things that inspire us and the work we do with our students and the new BCED curriculum.

Igniting passion in our students and giving space for students to explore their passions is what the new BCED curriculum is all about. When we share our passions with others, we connect and create community.

I am passionate about books, picture books specifically, but I also love YA books.  This summer I spent a lot of time sharing my passion and my reading with others on social media and in real life.  When I talk about books with other people, share a title or learn about a new “Must Read Book”, I feel joyful. Sharing my passion with others makes me happy.  I never have to be asked or told to read a book, I want to.

This is what I want for students, for my kids and for all kids.  Time and space to uncover the curriculum and explore their passions.

Leave me a comment, what are you passionate about?  What brings you joy?  What spaces have you created in your classroom or schools to share that joy with others?



#MustReadin2016 Update

Posted on: April 11th, 2016 by lschwartz 4 Comments

I took a leap and joined Carrie Gelson’s challenge #MustReadin2016.  It is hard not to get drawn in by Carrie’s enthusiasm and love for books.  When I read her blog, her words make me want to run out and by every book.  I am proud of what I have read so far.  I have read many of the books on my list and I even ventured off the list.   I have already read 10/15 books and it is only April.

Here is what I have read so far, in the order that I read them:

The Thing about Jellyfish- Ali Benjamin

Paper Things- Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Written in the Stars- Aisha Saeed

All the Bright Places- Jennifer Niven

Roller Girl- Victoria Jamieson

Count Me in – Sara Leach (not on my original list, but read it for a literature circle project)

The Last Time We Say Goodbye- Cynthia Hand

Small as an Elephant- Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Touching Spirit Bear – Ben Mikaelsen (not on my original list)

Everything, Everything- Nicola Yoon

I enjoyed all of the books that I have read so far this year. Many of them had me weeping in parts.  The two books that have really stayed with me long after I finished them:


Everything, Everything- Nicola Yoon.  I read this book on my flight home from Florida and couldn’t stop reading, couldn’t put it down and was finished it well before the flight was over. Madeline is a character that you will think about well after you turn the final page. She has the “Bubble baby disease” and can’t leave her house.  At seventeen, she is like Rapunzel trapped in her tower.  Madeline sees the world outside and can only imagine what it feels like to feel rain on her face or sunshine.  This is the story of what happens when a boy her age moves next door and their ongoing relationship from afar.


51LLIhiNdJL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Written in the Stars- Naila is in love with a boy that her parents have not chosen for her.  They are furious at her and bring her back to Pakistan to explore her roots.  But the vacation is changed and what follows is Naila’s story of an arranged marriage and her new life in Pakistan.


I look forward to adding to my list and reading many more books in 2016.

My Story: #MustReadin2016 Challenge

Posted on: January 8th, 2016 by lschwartz 2 Comments

This year I am joining Carrie Gelson and a host of other book lovers for the #MustReadin2016 on Twitter. I am very excited and inspired to read my list of books.

Last Summer, I re-discovered my love of reading when I joined another reading challenge on Twitter. Donalyn Miller’s #bookaday hashtag had me turning pages late into the night many times last summer. It was invigorating to read and enjoy so many books and connect with others on Twitter.

Here is my list of #MustReadin2016 books:

      51WLo5tAs3L._SX354_BO1,204,203,200_ The Thing About Jelly Fish by Ali Benjamin- Completed Jan 3, 2016

51UnPzofEWL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_ Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton

51bBbJPlfNL._SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-big,TopRight,35,-73_OU15_SL135_All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

51kPXj+MF6L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ How to Build a Girl- Caitlin Moran

51LLIhiNdJL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_ Written in the Stars- Aisha Saeed

51Ogkxm7QML._AA160_ Everything, Everything- Nicola Yoon

51ffwVD0FeL._SX339_BO1,204,203,200_ Crenshaw- Katherine Applegate

41OqMfINFRL._SL500_SL135_ Paper Things- Jennifer Richard Jacobson

51mJEataWuL._SL500_SL135_ The Truth About Twinkie Pie- Kate Yeh

51egQ49Nm6L._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_ Hope is a Ferris Wheel- Robin Herra

61umd+zBVJL._SX396_BO1,204,203,200_ The Teacher You Want to Be- Alfie Kohn, Matt Glover et al.

51DDdbBAEpL._SX345_BO1,204,203,200_The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

41SS8CrR6yL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

31ybVrekqpL._SL500_SL135_All The Small Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

What are you reading this year?




My Story: Nurturing my Love of Reading

Posted on: October 14th, 2015 by lschwartz 3 Comments

For the past few summers, I have started my holiday with a stack of books and a determination to read them all.  Like a New Year’s resolution, I relish in the feeling that I am going to accomplish something.  Two summers ago, I tweeted out my book stack with hopes of it keeping me accountable. But each summer unfolded the same.  I looked at that stack of books and gave myself reasons and deadlines to put off reading them.  In the blink of an eye, it would be the middle of August and I haden’t finished a single professional resource.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 8.24.01 PMI realized I had lost my love of reading.  Growing up I was a ferocious reader. I read anything I could get my hands on.  I often stayed up late into the night turning pages to a story that I couldn’t put down.  But in the last few years, I had lost that love of reading. Reading started to feel like a job, not a joy.

In June, I came across a blog post by Donalyn Miller about her Book a Day challenge on twitter.  Essentially read a book a day throughout the summer and tweet about it with the hashtag #bookaday.  This was my opportunity to celebrate reading, connect with a community who loved reading and reclaim the joy I had lost.

It was a beautiful summer of reading.  I read YA books and picture books, graphic novels and beginning chapter books and even one professional resource.  There were many nights that I stayed up long after the house was quiet engrossed in a good book.

I spent the summer nurturing reading in myself and in doing so I realized the importance of nurturing reading in our students. While we can not discount  the importance of our students having time in their day to read books at a level that they can read independently to build fluency.  We also must nurture a love and excitement of reading in our classrooms.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 8.41.17 PM



Teacher Research: Thinking About Story Workshop Part 1

Posted on: December 12th, 2014 by lschwartz No Comments

We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself.~ ~Lloyd Alexander

This year, I have continued my work with Louesa Byrne at Thompson Elementary and Story Workshop.  Our project evolved from a visit to Opal School in Portland, Oregon, June 2013. The Opal School is a K-5 school guided by the principles of the early childhood schools of Reggio Emilia. During our visit to Opal School we witnessed Story Workshop and wondered what story workshop would look like in our context.

Questions guiding our inquiry:

  • What is the role story workshop in supporting literacy development?
  • How can we integrate essential skills of reading and writing into story workshop?
  • What will be the affect on students’ knowledge of story and vocabulary development through regular participation in story workshop?

Story workshop operates under the belief that everyone has a story to tell and that stories can be communicated in many different ways.  Students build their language and literacy development by building and representing stories with a variety of objects.

In the workshop, children are given provocations in the form of materials such as blocks, paint, sand, play-dough and loose parts.  The children build, play and make the story come alive in their actions and words. As teachers, we document their stories to make their learning visible and give space for the students to be authors and communicate their many stories. We capture these stories through photographs, audio recordings and recording their stories.

During this first months of school, our focus has been on establishing some routines within story workshop, the creation stories using different materials and the ability to tell a story orally.  We record the children’s stories using photos and the program Pages.

Our big ideas for the students:

  • Everyone has a story to tell
  • Authors find ideas for stories in different places
  • Stories emerge from different materials

Some of the provocations that we have used to inspire stories:

play dough and loose parts

play dough and loose parts

Natural materials and loose parts with grass mats

Natural materials and loose parts with grass mats

gems, natural materials and ocean finger puppets

gems, natural materials and ocean finger puppets

We value the time story workshop gives students to work with materials, develop stories and share ideas.  We value the time story workshop gives us to get to know the students, make connections and watch them develop as story tellers.


Finding Joy in Teaching Reading

Posted on: January 26th, 2014 by lschwartz No Comments

I have not updated this blog since November as I consider the voice and vision of this blog.  I want it to be just right.  Tonight, as I read through the first chapter of Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, I realized my neglect of this blog has a lot do with fear of what other people will think about what I post and disengagement.  Because if I disengage from the process of blogging, I cannot fail.

But in the past few days, I have been inspired by people and events.  First I was inspired by Jen Barker and her blog post about her one little word for 2014, JOY.  Her post connected me to a post about finding joy in school and learning by Chris Kennedy.  Today, with my colleague Marie, I spoke to parents about reading with children and the focus of our session was making reading joyful.

I think sometimes the pressure we feel to get all those students reading at level xyz by a certain date, darkens our vision and makes the joy of reading harder to see.

 Find Joy in Teaching of Reading:

1. Joy is contagious.  Share your own love of reading with your students.

2.  Read out loud to your students, daily, no matter what age.

3. Build a community of readers who share books, make recommendations and talk about books.

4.  Put phonics and phonemic awareness in their place.  There is a place for both of these pieces of the puzzle, but they are just that, pieces of the puzzle.

5.  Focus on meaning.  Reading is making meaning and interacting with text.  When we teach for meaning and teach students to think while their reading, this allows them to interact more freely with text and come to a better understanding of what they are reading.

6.  Let there be choice.  Time to read just right books (fluency level) and time to read just right books (passion level).

“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.” -Maya Angelou