Teacher’s conference

A group of elementary school teachers hit the books a few weeks early during last week’s third annual Summer Institute for teachers at Fort Frances High School.
Literacy was the topic of this year’s conference, with 85 teachers from across Ontario participating in the series of three workshops on the subject, including one on oral language for kindergarten aged students, another focusing on reading and writing for grades 1 through 6, and a third on balanced literacy for students in grades 7 through 10.
The seminar was jointly sponsored by the Rainy River District School Board, the Ontario Teacher’s Federation and the Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario.
“Literacy is an important area to develop, particularly with the grade 3 and grade 6 (provincial literacy) testing,” said Maureen Ricard, literacy coordinator for the Rainy River District School board. “These workshops offer support and ideas that (teachers) can use in this area.”
Diana Cruise, a consultant with the Interlake School Division in Manitoba, led participants in a workshop on balanced literacy.
“We’re focusing on different strategies for reading and writing, and assessment strategies,” Cruise explained, adding “A strategy is simply a plan to help students comprehend material and remember it.”
She said teachers need to find ways to make learning more interesting to students.
“These strategies are designed to make students more active learners, and to keep them engaged with the material,” she noted.
Cruise’s workshop looked at a variety of types of texts teachers can to peak the interest of students including fiction, poetry, social science texts, and even magazine articles and comic strips.
Comic strips?
“There are curriculum expectations met by all these kinds of texts,” Cruise said.
She added it’s important to the learning process to get students talking about the texts they have read with their peers, as well as reflecting on what they have learned through writing and review.
“The real goal of all this is to make our students independent learners,” she stressed.
Lana O’Reilly and Liz Cook traveled from the Greater Toronto Area to lead the workshop on reading and writing for primary and junior level students.
This seminar also focused on encouraging students to engage with the material they are reading. Topics on the agenda Friday included ways of teaching students to assess their own enjoyment and understanding of a particular book.
The pre-reading seminar on oral language for kindergarten students was presented by Anne Anderson and local speech pathologist Debbie Cousineau.
Several publishers, including Oxford Press, were also on hand during the conference to showcase new literacy material that can be used in classrooms.